The Hobwit

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Post by The Archet Bugle on Wed Sep 21, 2011 6:02 am

REMOVED FOR RENOVATION


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Post by The Archet Bugle on Mon Dec 19, 2011 1:23 am

REMOVED FOR RENOVATION


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Post by The Archet Bugle on Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:16 pm

REMOVED FOR RENOVATION


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Post by Orwell on Mon Dec 19, 2011 11:54 pm

Crazy thing. This story has gone to 64 A4 pages now! How things creep up! Read back through the earliest (most edited parts) and saw I had forgotten some of the naughtiness and silliness. You know, it's a sign of how great The Hobbit is that The Bugle can so readily (and so lovingly) parody it! Very Happy

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Post by Mrs Figg on Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:07 am

I wants a magic bangle too yes I wants it for crimbo I does.
Hogwarts? I dont think so.

study lol! Kissing
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Post by Biffo Banks on Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:35 am

I'm almost thinking the Bugle's Anon Author should get back more often to this, including plain editing, and rewriting all the misfiring bits! Maybe even make it all more coherent and consistent --- and trying to remember all those dwarfs names and all - eegad!!! Writing directly into posts "as it comes", with a mere bit of quick editing as one goes, is fraught with problems, especially if one wants to hit the mark and write decent prose consistently and be funny as well, what. I know the Anon Author well - and so am probably too close to this project to be unbiased - but, not having visited The Hobwit for awhile, I'm struck at how well much of it works. Why are send ups so much easier than "serious"writing, I wonder? Sad
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:39 am

Shocked Shocked Shocked

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Post by Biffo Banks on Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:41 am

zat woz funkan weerdie! Shocked
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:42 am

I thought it was the buckie. Are you alright Biffo- you had a turn there and no mistake.

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Post by Orwell on Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:43 am

Bloody Admin! Mad We clearly need another "Scheduled Maintenance" thingee, I think... Bloody Eldo and his slipshod maintenance regime... no wonder these glitches occur! Rolling Eyes

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"Skirts!" cried our respectable Master Odo. "Skirts! And they have the temerity to call them 'kilts'.... Eru darn my socks!"

From "The True Tale of the Un-magical Coal Scuttle."
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Post by Pettytyrant101 on Tue Dec 20, 2011 12:50 am

Maybe the new Mayor can sort him out a bit. Well so long as its not Pretty that wins, don't think her version of sorting out men will help much.

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Post by The Archet Bugle on Tue Dec 20, 2011 1:10 am

LORD ELDORION STUFFS UP - AGAIN

News has just come into the Newsdesk that Mister Lardedah Eldorion Loremaster Adminextroadinaire has failed to see a wrinkle in the etherthingamagiggy netospheric infrastructure, and so poor Orwell (the Erudite and Thoughtful) has had one of his posts come under Biffo Banks avatar! Shocked

We at this laudable journal are now asking: how can our Admin be so slovenly and slothful as to allow such a mistransmission to occur? Don't tell me that not only can he NOT run a proper Mayoral Election, but he can't detect "cracks" in the posting apparatus! Rolling Eyes

I don't know who has been more embarrassed by Lord Eldorion's incompetence - Orwell or Biffo.

This is an outrage of Forumshiran Proportions!

We spoke to both injured parties.

Orwell: "I don't want answers! I'd rather the whole sordid affair be forgotten. Haven't I been embarrassed enough by this debacle?"

Biffo: "Wot?"

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Post by Orwell on Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:13 am

Wonderful tale this. Should be published --- if only the Wonderful Author would finish it! Very Happy

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"Skirts!" cried our respectable Master Odo. "Skirts! And they have the temerity to call them 'kilts'.... Eru darn my socks!"

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Post by odo banks on Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:15 am

I hope you're not hanging on the Paul's coat tails in an unabashed attempt to get cheap publicity for "The Hobwit", Orwell! Shocked

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Post by Orwell on Fri Apr 27, 2012 7:16 am

My goodness, Odo! Shocked How could you even suggest it? Shocked As if my friends at The Bugle would ever do something like that! Shocked That's more NotP's style! Shocked

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"Skirts!" cried our respectable Master Odo. "Skirts! And they have the temerity to call them 'kilts'.... Eru darn my socks!"

From "The True Tale of the Un-magical Coal Scuttle."
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Post by Mrs Figg on Fri Apr 27, 2012 1:25 pm

if we ever actually got a NotP of course! Mad

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Post by The Archet Bugle on Mon May 14, 2012 1:44 am

If anyone should chance to visit here, do not be afraid, I have just removed The Hobwit for "renovation." Very Happy



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Post by The Archet Bugle on Mon May 14, 2012 2:41 am

THE HOBWIT

by G.H. MAILLARD



FOREWARD

This Tale - originally titled the “First Reddish Book of Eastwestmarch”, but here renamed “The Hobwit” - is precursor to a much thicker tome “The Second Reddish Book of Eastwestmarch”, or “Our Lady of the Bangle.”  It introduces hobwits and other legendary beings and creatures and, while full of salacious vulgarity and sexual innuendo of the worst kind, is intended for Younger Readers.



PRELUDE


One evening, when Bango Bigguns was barely out of his Tweeds, he went out walking.

It was a lovely night to be out under star and tree; not that he was very much interested in star watching or tree cuddling. It was the fauna in his beloved Riding that he enjoyed most in late spring. And it came to pass, when he had turned for home and was skulking through the Woody End, that he stopped and studied two bunnies bunny-making on a wooded hillside. And nightfall fell about him, wrapping him in its tautological embrace...

Once he realized the hour, Bango frowned but briefly, for the little hobwit had a dwarf cloak in his handbag to keep him warm (one he had ‘borrowed’ from a troop of travelling dwarf miner-musicians back in March) and he really did not mind sleeping out. He found a copse of trees with a leafy floor and made camp in a spot overlooking The Road east of Hobwiton. Settling himself, he fell asleep in no time, or not very much time.

In the middle of the night, Bango was awoken by joyous sad exquisite singing. It was the particularly lovely singing you only ever hear out on quiet country roads in the middle of nowhere in the warmer part of spring.  

The voice became louder and along the road walked a beautiful elf. Well, not so much ‘walked’ as ‘glided’. She was not only the most beautiful elf he had ever seen, she was the only elf he had ever seen, and her shimmering beauty set her apart from all the other elfs he had never seen.

Bango was enraptured and he cried out in fluent Simbarin, “Hey, Lovely Lady, don’t just glide on by with nary a glance at me! And please don’t pretend you can't come and sit with me a nary while and so forth! Of course you can! Have I not left this leafy spot between me and this fallen pinecone to sit your pert loveliness upon? It is only a small gap, true, but surely it is more than squeeze-worthy? Anyway, what else is there to do out here in the middle of nowhere while the Evenstar is shining?”

The Elfish Lady let out a scintillating laugh (not a jolly laugh, as that would be unbecoming for an elf) and she straightaway glided up under the trees and sat with him a nary while. It was as if she had heard his cry and was responding to it. Indeed, she was very kind and sat with him a quite a long nary while. Indeed, as the Evenstar was casting its ethereal light upon the mortal world, an unknown amount of time did pass, for time (especially Elfish Time) was quite different in those far off days.

“I have a flask of beer,” said our Bango after a further nary while (still using the Simbarin he had learned from ‘Elfish Tongues for Idiots’), “Would you like to take a wee guzzle?”

“I’ve never guzzled such a liquid,” answered the gorgeous Elfish Lady in a voice that could melt hearts, launch ships, and make Priests consider their celibacy. (Of course, I can only give a vague translation of the Elfish she used, and I realize her words can’t sound ever so pretty in English, but I can assure you they sounded really elegant and sensual in Elfish). So anyhow the Lady had a good smidgen from Bango’s flask.

After a moment, she sighed. “Oh, I feel a slight tingle in a part of my beautiful body, but the tingle is not in that part of my beautiful body that a man has got, but in that part of a (real) woman that a (real) woman has got, for it is in the part that in a man is missing, whether now or in time immemorial (I include herein, Elfish Time, dear Bango, if truly that be your name!) Nor is that tingle in that part of me that is the end of my finger.”

And she smiled at him with eyes agleam like amethysts and diamonds and carbuncles.

Bango smiled slyly and took a swig too. “Oh I see what you mean, for I too feel a tingly sensation in a certain part of me, which is truly the part that a (real) Lady does not possess - assuming that Elfish Ladies are conformed generally after the same fashion that hobwit ladies are! Nor is it in the part which is that part that is the end of my finger, though the part I refer to might verily be thought ‘finger-like’ if glanced briefly in dim light on the occasion of me having happy thoughts whilst watching certain hobwit lasses skinny-dipping in The Puddle, but not the ugly ones.”

And they laughed at that, and their night passed somewhat energetically, very somewhat, truth be known.  

Bango woke next morning with a root in his back and a certain part of his body very chafed and sore. But it was not the part that was that part that was the end of his finger.

And Bango mulled over things as he blinked in the morning sun.

Was last night, after all, nothing more than a big marvelous sweaty dream?

Mind you, his dominant palm was not the least bit chafed, as one might expect if indeed that part of his body (that was not the part of his body that was the end of his finger) had been worked vigorously all through the night by his dominant hand while sleeping. And yet, it could not be denied that the former part was red and sore.

Anyway, the Elfish Lady had mysteriously vanished, not even the end of her finger remained; though it was surely possible she had just wandered off while he was asleep, Bango’s sleep having been a long deep sleep, full and content.

Bango never found out that the Elfish Lady was a mighty Princess with Mairn blood (pronounced ‘Mair-ren’) who sometime later bore his child. The truth was, Bango had not just dreamed the events of last night, they had really happened (and they had been fabulous!) It was merely a coincidence that what had happened was exactly as it had happened many times in a lovely dream he was having on a regular basis - indeed, every night.

Remarkably, it was the selfsame dream that many other hobwit lads (and hobwit lasses of a certain persuasion) had been having since time immemorial.

The truth was Bango had had what we now know as a “right-royal-nocturnal-session” - though this sounds far more elegant when you say it in Simbarin.

Anyhow, the Elfish Lady subsequently (after deep reflection) named the newborn child ‘Spiegel’. This translates as “Little Hobbit-like-Elf”, but only after passing it down through Simbarin into Eastwestron, and so on down into English, and engaging a whole slab of poetic license as well....


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Post by The Archet Bugle on Mon May 14, 2012 4:58 am

Chapter One
An Unexpectedly Long Chapter



In a hole in the ground there lived a hobwit. Not a dirty filthy hole with mysterious stains on the carpet, or ugly dust piles under the sofa, nor yet an absolutely clean and tidy hole, because the hobwit was a bit fat and lazy. If the hole was largely prefabricated, it was nonetheless quite artful (airy-fairy even), and decorated in a lovely art deco style. It was full of lovely garish blue and purple lamp-stands and disco-glass chandeliers, not large, everything in the hole was small, including our hero (in more ways than one), and the disco-lights were powered by magic – but more of that later.

The hobwit's hole had a long passage that started at a spiffy green round front door (clever post-modern architecture that) which overlooked The Puddle. The doorway, when open, looked like a mouth puckering in surprise - and one can easily imagine an ‘ooh’ sound emitting from it. The passage that led from it went straight into the ground, but not absolutely straight, having a variation of three degrees in several places.

The passage went right down through The Hump ('The Hump' as most locals called it, though it was also known as 'The Humping Hill' by those in the know). Many doors opened out on both sides of the passage (some of which the hobwit kept securely locked). Some of the doors opened into pantries full of every foodstuff imaginable, including foreign stuff from countries that may not have actually existed in Western Europe yet. Some opened into enormous clothes-closets (the hobwit had whole rooms full of clothing made by who-the-hell-knows-who). Some opened into bathrooms with elfish posters on the walls (the hobwit was very fond of elfs). At last, the passage exited at the bottom end of The Hump. No one knows what shape or color the exit portal was, for it was never mentioned in either the First or Second Reddish Book of Eastwestmarch.

Now the mother of our hobwit - what is a hobwit? My Goodness! What a stupid question that is! Haven’t you even read ‘The Hobwit’ yet? (Don’t play dumb, you know what book I mean!) Go on – get off with you! Come back when you’ve read it. I’ll wait here until you get back…. Sheesh! Some people!


...


Back, are you? And have you read it? Yeah, sure you have! [Sigh!] Here goes…

Hobwits are (or were) a fuzzy little species somewhere on the evolutionary scale between rabbits and humans. They are (or were) very cute and cuddly and have (or had) fuzzy feet – and they smoke (or smoked) a lot of pipe-weed – at least the more well-to-do do (or did). Mind you, the poorer hobwits eked out their lives in muddy holes or under large stones and can't (or couldn't) afford tinder-boxes or matches, let alone narcotic plants introduced from the Island of Numitawl... Oh did I mention hobwits have (or had) naturally curly brown hair growing on their heads and on their naturally leather-like feet, but not anywhere else as far as I know? And food - they love it (or loved it), and a lot of it, if they can (or could) get it. Oh and they are (or were) really popular with females of every persuasion (if persuaded) because hobwits remind (or reminded) them ever so much of teddy bears. Well, this should be enough to go on with.

Now Bango Bigguns – the hero of our tale - was a well-to-do hobwit. Yes, that’s his name! No, I’m not pulling your chain! Anyhow, he was about fifty years old, a portly chap, and set in his ways. If you had asked him what he thought about adventures (for instance) he would have said he could take them or leave them, but preferred to leave them. In fact, sneaking around The Riding at night, hoping to meet elfs in the woods, was the height of adventure for him. As to doing anything dangerous – nah – he’d have given that a miss every time. You could tell that just by looking at him. He was a self-satisfied tubby little chap and going off on dangerous adventures was just something respectable hobwits never did. And, I mean, he lived a life of ease for God’s sake! Why the hell would he need to go off and risk his life? Indeed, he was a second edition of his stolid and squalid father, the wealthy Baldy Bigguns, who had been extremely respectable – apparently.

Now – the mother of Bango Bigguns was the famous Helbanga Toot. How Baldy hooked up with her is anyone’s guess, for she was a daughter of the Old Toot who lived at Grave Smells across The Puddle. I can tell you now the Toots were not respectable at all. Not that Helbanga was by any means the worse of them – her two sisters were. They were famous those girls – though the word infamous seems a better description. Bigbanga and Ballbanga Toot were well known all over The Riding - very well known if you know what I mean, and I think you do. Anyhow, you definitely have enough to go on with.

One morning, when the world was green and innocent (apparently), Grandelf came along... Oh damn! Is that the time? Well, off to bed you go. I’ll pick up the story tomorrow night! Don’t pout! Get to bed! Or do you want me to get the switch out?




...




Now, where were we? Ah! This is the bit I think…

One sunny morning, Bango was sitting out on his doorstep puffing away on his pipe, enjoying the last of his Bongbottom Leaf, when an old fellow came hobbling up Slipshod Lane. (The old fellow seemed to have a bad back, but as that doesn’t come into the story I won’t mention it again). When the fellow reached Bango, he cast the little hobwit in his shadow (possibly deliberately) then straightened up (so he might have been hobbling for some other reason than having a bad back) and thrust out his bushy eyebrows.

Bango put aside the letters he’d been opening and looked up at the strange apparition before him. What he saw was a tall man – though the tall man was not actually a man at all, even if he looked ever so much like one, and a very old looking one at that. Anyway, the old man-like fellow wore a pointy wizard's hat, and a long blue-grey wizard’s cloak, and a pair of big black wizard's boots (the ones you get from wizard shops), and he leaned on a sturdy wizard’s staff, held in an ancient hand that looked like it had been burnt several times by wizard's fire. Bango wondered if he was a wizard.

“Good morning,” Bango greeted the man-like fellow brightly, for the hobwit was in a chipper mood, having eaten for breakfast seven rashes of bacon and seven thick pancakes smothered in golden syrup, washed down with seven pints of milk (possibly goat’s milk, but who can know?) Anyway, the little fellow had every reason to feel good. Greatly contented, he sent out an enormous puff of black smoke to float out over The Hump. The puff of black smoke looked exactly like a black puff of black smoke, but it might easily have been mistaken for a little black cloud, if the sunlight had not been so bright and the general visibility so excellent. Old Bango was very proud of it anyhow.

“It’s a good morning for blowing an artistic puff, don’t you think? Lovely puff that, what?”

“Very nice,” the stranger lied. “And what a lot of things you use ‘Good morning’ for!”

“Pardon me?”

“And to think I should be greeted at the door of Helbanga Biggun-Toot’s chubby son, as if I was some disreputable button salesman…!”

“Are you selling buttons?”

“No – sold out.”

“Who are you anyway?”

“You might know me by many names.”

“I don’t know you by any names.”

“Ah!" the old man-like fellow said sadly, "I suppose it has been a long time since I was in these parts. Yes, thirty five years – and possibly more.... Let me help. My name around here is Grandelf.”

“Grandelf did you say?” Bango ruminated. “Now that does sound kind of familiar… Are you an elf?”

“No, sadly I’m not.”

“But your name…?”

“Just one of those quirky things really... though I’m a Mair from the Blessed Realm of Eleanor, so I have a fairly good relationship with them. Funny to say, but most folk around here think I’m a wizard. I’m not really, you know. Or, at least, not technically... I’m a Mair – did I just say that...?”

“Yes, you do look like a wizard,” Bango mused aloud. Then he burst out somewhat disapprovingly, “My goodness, just look at your grubby wild-eyed face, and your long grey hair and beard! My! They hang down to your midriff and buttocks, and all tangled up and knotty and filthy with twigs and cobwebs! Have you been sleeping under hedges by any chance?”

“Of fiddle-faddle,” Grandelf answered ruefully, as he rubbed his back (perhaps he did have a bad back after all). “Where I sleep and who I sleep with is nobody’s business.”

“There’s a lot of it,” Bango continued.

“Pardon me?”

“You’ve got a lot of hair.”

“Oh I see. Very distinguished don’t you think?”

“Long and messy I’d call it.”

Indeed, Grandelf had a lot of grey hair, dirty as mentioned, and long and wispy, and not tied up with one ribbon, elastic band or bobby-pin. In fact, had his hairdressers been there they would have been disgusted with him. And the dandruff! Oh my God – the dandruff!

(Indeed, his hobwit hairdressers in Wee - which was east of The Riding beyond Verryold Forest and is not mentioned in this story - were well aware of his dandruff problem. Indeed, they often called him “Dandruff”, and right to his face! The wizard would love to have spanked those impertinent hobwit maidens - for more than one reason - but as they were the only professionally trained hairdressers in Western Europe during the Third Age, he always kept his temper).

“Well, never mind my hair," Grandelf frowned. "I need to talk to you.”

“Grandelf!” Bango suddenly exclaimed as a host of childhood memories came rushing. “I do remember you now!”

Yes, it was Grandelf! Oh blimey! The Grandelf! It could it be none other! Oh my Goodness! If you had heard only seven percent of what I’ve heard about him, and I only know about seven percent of all there is to know, you’d be prepared for seven percent of any sort of tale about him!

Bango could not contain his excitement. “Not the Grandelf whose amazing fireworks stimulated Hobwiton about thirty five years ago!" the little fellow burst out, possibly hyper-ventilating. “Oh how I adored those fireworks! Snapdragons and rhododendrons, and agapanthus too, and rows of pansies set out in neat boxes – pansies of many colors! I remember them from when I was a gay little lad. Wonderful!’

“Not the Grandelf who had a special sky rocket you showed to little hobwit boys and girls, but only in private, and only after they had sworn seriously binding oaths to not reveal what they had seen - so as not to spoil the surprise for other little hobwit boys and girls!’

“Not the Grandelf who gave Candy Cotton a pair of magic bracelets one Friday night that clasped her wrists to her ankles and left her weary but smiling come Monday morning!’

“Not the Grandelf who was responsible for so many hobwit lads and lasses going off on wild adventures, everything from climbing trees, to burning them down, to chopping them up for pulp to sell to industrialized nations! Off you’d take them into any dark wood or cave or derelict cottage you could find, rarely to return!’

“Life used be quite inter - I mean, you seem to be responsible for any number of unexplained disappearances…!”

“Oh well,” Grandelf smiled nostalgically, “You at least remember my fireworks kindly – though not very accurately, for you seem to have confused them with a variety of flowering annuals and shrubs... Nonetheless, for the sake of your buxom but dead mother I'll send you on this adventure I’m planning. It's the least I can do...”

“What adventure?”

“The one I’m sending you on!”

Bango became suspicious (as well he might). “You did say an ‘adventure’?”

“Yes, I wish you’d listen. I don't want to say too much this early in the story, but I plan to send you off on a dangerous adventure with thirteen dwarfs. They’re off to kill a Mythological Beast (I must be careful of spoilers, of course!) After the Mythological Beast is dead, you can take it’s ...err… stuff. (I’m not at liberty to mention what the stuff is – for the same reason I just gave in the brackets above). Frankly, I’ve had a bugger of a time finding someone like you; someone simply begging to go along.”

“I never begged any such thing!” Bango exclaimed.

“Yes you did.”

“No, I didn’t!”

“Yes you did - several times.”

“Several times?”

“Well, at least twice.”

“I don’t want any adventures, thank you very much!”

“But it will be hilarious for me, and possibly financially beneficial for you - if you actually survive, that is.”

“Financially beneficial, did you say?” Bango asked, showing he was not quite as prosy (whatever that means) as he thought he was, especially when it came to gaining a financial advantage. “Where would we be going exactly?”

“Oh over there somewhere," Grandelf smiled down at him. As he spoke, Grandelf stretched out his arm to point in the direction of the Pointy End, a copse of trees that grew on a low hill a few miles east of them. Above the pointiest tips of the trees, far, far away, were the snow-tipped peaks of the Mushy Mountains.

Bango squinted down at the Pointy End, having to shade his eyes in the bright morning sunlight. He frowned uneasily. As far as he knew, there had never been a confirmed sighting of any Mythological Beast in the Pointy End (though Old Dickie Nob the town drunk swore he had seen a big breasted tree walking there one summer evening – of course, no one believed him).

Bango now thought of all those hobwit lads and lasses going off with Grandelf, never to return...

“So you want me to go there with you?” Bango asked thoughtfully giving a nod in the general direction of the Pointy End.

“I do indeed,” Grandelf grinned down at him.

All of a sudden the hobwit felt very insecure. “Ah! I don’t think so!” he squeaked. “I don’t want any adventures! Not today, anyhow! But come around for tea tomorrow, and we’ll discuss any other fiscal plans you might have! Yes, come around tomorrow!” And the flustered and flummoxed little fellow scuttled off into his hobwit hole, slamming the door right in the wizard’s face – which was just as well, because Grandelf was hoping to stay.

The wizard stood chuckling on his doorstep (he had had plenty of doors slammed in his face over the years and was used to it), and then he stepped up to Bango's beautiful art deco front door and, using his magic staff as a gigantic pencil, began to scrawl a comprehensive message on its freshly painted surface. The message was written in a runic alphabet, of course, because any type of cursive script - especially Elfish - is inordinately difficult to write if you are using a wizard’s staff to do it – you probably didn’t know that. Then Grandelf hobbled off down Slipshod Lane to find a masseuse.

Meanwhile, Bango was gulping down his third breakfast for the morning, thinking he had avoided adventures quite nicely, thank you very much! Yeah, right!






Bango had a shocking memory and he totally forgot all about Grandelf and so had absolutely no idea who might be ringing the doorbell the very next evening.

“I wonder if that’s my pipe-weed,” he said hopefully and hurried to the door.

You can imagine his surprise when he found it was not his cousin Druggo at all. No, it was an old dwarf with a white egg-stained beard. The dwarf leaned on a clarinet-cum-walking stick and was clad in a hedge-weathered cloak.

“Dwarfen at your service,” the dwarf said in a remarkably feminine voice, while bowing deeply.

“‘Dwarfen’ did you say?” Bango asked in surprise.

“Dwarfen, it is.”

“Isn’t that what you are, not who you are?”

“No, it’s my name.”

“Oh well then,” Bango said slowly. “Pleased to meet you…'Dwarfen’... Oh! - and welcome to my humble home…”

A bit stiff perhaps, but how would you feel if a dwarf called Dwarfen unexpectedly came ringing your bell?

After an awkward moment, Dwarfen said, “So I’ll just hang my beard up, shall I?”

“Yes, please do,” Bango said, a bit stunned.

So Dwarfen hung up her beard (the best kind of detachable party beard) on a peg in the hallway. “I could do with a drink, you know,” she added as she turned back round to face him.

Bango blinked, but then he remembered his manners. “Will it be beer or whisky?”

Sternly the dwarf said, “Wine, if you don’t mind; and I’ll have it in the sitting-room thank you. I’m just off to powder my nose.”

So a bewuthered and beweathered Bango ran off to pour out a dram of Old Vineyard in the sitting-room, seriously wondering what kind of night he might be in for, and was this just some kind of warped joke contrived by Druggo? Before he could come up with any sort of answer though, there was another ring on his doorbell.

“Now, I don’t know what’s going on,” said our Bango, “but my every instinct tells me that that'll be another dwarf.”

Bango ran and opened his door and...

Yep, another dwarf!

“Bwalin at your service,” said the silver bearded dwarf leaning on a flute-cum-walking-stick. He gave a deep bow.

Bango was speechless.

The old dwarf (thus the silver beard) straightened up again and spied Dwarfen’s beard in the hallway. “Ah! I see my brother is here already.”

“Your brother, did you say?” Bango asked, trying to collect his wits, “No, I don’t think so… some strange lady dwarf has turned up, but…”

“Yes,” Bwalin smiled. “I’m actually talking about my sister Dwarfen,” and Bwalin gave him a big wink. “She likes to think she’s one of the boys, you see. It’s a secret known only to us conspirators - and Grandelf, of course.”

“But…” Bango stuttered.

Bwalin laughed. “Yes, I see you’re thinking, ‘If it’s all such a secret, then why blurt it out the first second we meet?’ Oh Mr Bigguns, as you’re our chief burglar-assassin, you’ll soon work it out anyhow. I mean to say, the first time we stop for a roadside call of nature and twelve stand while one squats – well, even you’ll begin to ask questions!” He laughed again. (He laughed a lot, old Bwalin. He was one of the nicest dwarfs you could ever meet.)

“But…!”

“Oh dear Mr Bigguns: Grandelf himself told us you were a pumpkin head, and yet surely not even you can be that much of a pumpkin head!” and Bwalin laughed again.

“But…”

“Oh dear Mr Bigguns, please stop saying ‘but.’ It’s starting to give me the shits. Now, I’ll just be off to your third pantry to grab those seven beautiful round seed-cakes you baked for your after-supper morsel. I must say, I'm glad I got here before that glutton Bumbur did!”

And with that, Bwalin took off down the passageway.

“Thirteen dwarfs,” Bango pondered incredulously when he was gone. “Burglar-assassin?” he asked himself in confused alarm (that didn’t sound good at all, at all!)

“Pumpkin Head!” he grated in some annoyance.

“My goodness,” he added in agitated befuddlement, “this is turning out to be the most awkward Wednesday since the Wednesday before last!"

And then the doorbell rang again.

By now Bango was becoming a trifle miffed – as well he might – though he now remembered yesterday’s (sometimes esoteric) conversation with Grandelf. “If I didn’t know better, that old scallywag has gone and brought an adventure right into my hole,” complained our Mr. Bigguns. “But if Grandelf thinks I’m going to sneak off into some Mythological Beast’s palace, murder him, and steal his ruby slippers – or whatever – well, that wizard's got another thing coming! My goodness me, as if I’d ever be capable of doing such a thing!”

Then the doorbell rang again, long and loud, as if some hobbit lassie’s angry jilted husband had come to take him to task.

“Not another dwarf!” Bango growled and hurried to open the door. But it wasn’t a dwarf. It was seven of them. And before you could say “How’s your mother?” they had pushed into his hallway and were bowing, and hanging up hoods of assorted colors on pegs, and putting drum-cum-pots, and cymbals-cum-earrings, and harps-cum-portable-clotheslines, and electric-guitars-cum-axes (two of them) neatly in a corner.

Then they all lined up and intoned in unison, “Biffo, Boppo, Ignory, Snorey, Groin, Poin and Snodgrass – at your service.”

Surprisingly, given the unsettling circumstances, Bango remembered the proper protocols this time. “And me at you, yours, your mothers, fathers and all your distant relatives!”

The formalities dealt with, the seven dwarfs hurried off to raid Bango’s pantries. In a trice they were in the sitting-room with Dwarfen and Bwalin, eating and drinking like pigs, and talking like they were a bunch of old and very dear friends, even though half of them hated each other.

Bango got out a couple of bottles of Old Vineyard and plunked them down on the hallway rug. “If they’re all staying,” he muttered to himself, “I’m going to get pissed!”

Then a loud knock came at the door. It was as if some naughty person was hitting it firmly with a large stick - or maybe even a staff.

“More dwarfs for sure,” Bango hissed despairingly and took a huge swig from one of his bottles. He then started weeping into his hands. But he was interrupted by an even louder knocking on his door. “If that’s not a wizard’s staff, then I’m the descendant of a rodent," he muttered bitterly, "which I’m not, no matter what Mayor Whitefeet thinks!” He looked around for his walking stick, “I’ll give that Grandelf what for!” And, angry as a dragon in a pinch, he leapt to his fuzzy feet. But he could not find his walking stick – which only made him angrier still.

“Darn Wednesdays!” he cried. “They’ve been an absolute pain in the arse this year!”

Then the door bell rang insistently- and the extremely irritating and probably destructive knocking started again.

“Will you open that freaking door!” called the nine dwarfs from the sitting-room.

And Bango did – like a champagne cork!

To Bango's great surprise, a pile of dwarfs fell through the door. At a quick count, four of them, with a big fat one on top.

Grandelf stood at the back laughing his guts out. “Dear Bango,” he chortled, “It’s unlike you to keep unexpected guests waiting on the doorstep and then open it like a champagne cork. You’ve gone and buried the great Thorny Oakenbeard under three dwarfs! I dare say Fowly will soon be cussing and cursing, and Growly growling, and we’ll probably need a crane to move old Bumbur! Forsooth, I say, and I’ll say it again, forsooth!”

“*:@^#>! fat hobwit!” cussed one of two yellow bearded dwarfs in the middle of the pile - Fowly presumably.

“This is what you get when a woman insists on coming and making it ‘Unlucky Number’ time!” growled the other yellow beard – Growly presumably.

“*:@^#>! women!” Fowly cussed.

"See!" Grandelf grinned.

“Lucky I fell on top,” said Bumbur, who was extremely hefty. “I might have hurt myself otherwise.”

Bango wasn’t angry anymore – he was aghast. With Grandelf’s help, he lugged Bumbur up onto his tree-stump legs, followed by Fowly and Growly. Slowly and painfully the great Thorny Oakenbeard climbed to his feet and he gave Bango a glare that almost burnt the poor hobwit’s face off. But Bango was so repeatedly and utterly apologetically servile, that Thorny finally said, “Pray tell, forget it. Oh God, will you please just shut your blathering trap!” The dwarf then grimaced and drew a deep breath, “Anyway, let’s deal with the formalities, shall we! Ahem! I am Thorny, son of Corny, son of Horny - at your service!”

“Did you say ‘Thorny’, son of ‘Corny’, son of ‘Horny’?” Bango inquired, quite stunned.

Thorny frowned, “Yes, Thorny, son of Corny, son of Horny, what of it?”

“Oh….?”

“Why does this always happen?” Thorny sighed. “Mr. Bigguns, ‘Thorny' is short for 'Thorndike', 'Corny' is short for 'Cornwall', and 'Horny' is short for 'Hornrable'. You know, I do get ever so sick of explaining it!”

“'Hornrable?’ ” Bango asked, his mind going blank.

“As in ‘noble’ or ‘lordly’ or ‘gentlemanly’,” Grandelf intervened helpfully.

“Oh – you actually mean ‘honourable’ don’t you,” Bango laughed in relief. “But shouldn’t it be “Onny’ for short?

“Not at all,” Grandelf intervened. “It's a question of dialect, Bango. You’re thinking of the Nogrog dialect in which it’s pronounced 'honourable' – Thorny’s people originally came from Bludicross in the Azure Mountains, where it's 'hornrable'. It's a mistake any pumpkin head could make.”

“Oh… I see…” Bango said, even though he didn’t (and I don’t suppose you do – unless of course you’re a philologist or something).

Anyhow, a few seconds later a collection of camping-equipment-cum-musical-instruments were deposited in the hall. Immediately afterward, Growly, Fowly and Bumbur stumped off to raid Bango’s pantries.

“I’ll get the red wine,” growled Growly.

“I wonder where the *:@^#>! croissants are!” cussed Fowly.

“I’m afraid it'll just have to be potatoes and cream buns for me,” Bumbur put in somberly. "I'm on a diet."

“It seems like they know the contents of my pantries better than I do!” Bango complained.

“Never mind that, my good hobwit," Thorny said gruffly. “There'll be time for idle banter later on. Off to the sitting-room we go. We’ve got a fair slab of gluttony and drunkenness to get through tonight – and perhaps a little planning as well.”

So in a trice (or perhaps a ‘quart’ time being what is in Western Europe in those days) there were fifteen folk in Bango’s sitting-room, scattered about on sofas, barstools and stolen milk crates. Bango took up a position on the hearthrug. He was both subdued and nervous. Sadly he watched as most of his precious comestibles were consumed at an alarming rate.

Time seemed interminable and probably was. Bango’s appetite was quite dented. He nibbled on a biscuit. What would happen to him? He popped down a few jam tarts. Were these dwarfs really here to take him off on an adventure? Things certainly seemed to be moving in that direction. Down his throat gurgled a pint of eggnog. He wondered if he could manage a loaf of rye bread spread with pilchards in his upset state. Yes, he could…

In the fullness of time Grandelf rose unsteadily in his chair (having hit the port a bit too hard). "I have an important announcement!” he slurred… “Shut up everyone!” he yelled.

The dwarfs, who had been loudly discussing the pros and cons of live theatre for about two hours, fell silent.

“It’s time to get out the pipe-weed,” the wizard instructed them. "I hope everyone brought some!"

Somberly, the dwarfs reached for their pouches. Bango’s spirits lifted. He watched in hope as they filled their pipes and lit up. The dwarfs took a drag in unison, exhaled, then sat back with satisfied expressions and patted their full stomachs and some belched while others farted.

“I don’t suppose someone could lend me a fill,” Bango squeaked. “I seem to have run out.”

“How impertinent,” Snodgrass sniffed.

“Fancy him begging for our prized pipe-weed like that!” snorted Biffo, a large tattooed fellow with a nasty jagged scar across his forehead. He looked the type who would kill people without a blink – and probably had.

“Ungracious swine,” grumbled Boppo (who appeared to be Biffo’s twin – though he had a scar across his nose, not across his brow).

Irritated, Bango shouted, “Me ungracious! What about all the food you lot have woofed down?!”

“Now, now,” Grandelf said. “You are the host, and you know your duty, no matter how painful."

"What?"

"And you must not blame others for your lack of forethought, my good Bango," the wizard added kindly. "Now be quiet. We have more important things to worry about. Hey, you dwarfs! Who's going to start the smoke rings?”

Then for the next ten minutes the dwarfs blew smoke rings in delight. And the more they sucked and the more they blew, the shinier their eyes became.

“Not bad, not bad...” Grandelf commented as he watched their handiwork with a professional eye, "Oh not such a bad ring that one! Yes that one almost got through that other one without actually breaking up first! Not bad at all. Not too bad anyway..."

Finally, the dwarfs cracked the shits with him.

“Hey!” Poin grumbled. (At least, Bango thought it was Poin, the room being now so full of smoke). “If you can do better, Grandelf, then do better!”

Grandelf’s eyes flashed gleefully. It was clear he was waiting for just such an invitation. He drew deep on his pipe. Then out came a smoky multicolored three ring circus, with performing elephants in one ring, a troop of hobgobbler trapeze artists in another, and in the third a yellow haired, red nosed clown playing croquet with a trained monkey on the broad back of a silver stallion.

Most of the dwarfs clapped in sheer delight as the smoke-circus dissipated, and Fowly said, “Well, that was pretty *:@^#>! impressive!”

But Growly was contrary. “I’ve seen better!”

“Don't be a nincompoop, Growly!" Dwarfen said scornfully, before addressing the wizard, "Oh Grandelf! That was stupendous! How ever did you do it?”

“It’s just a little something I learned behind the dorms at Hogwarts when I was a lad,” Grandelf answered, clearly chuffed. "Mind you, I am a Mair," he added a trifle pompously, "So much of it comes naturally."

“Of where?” Snodgrass asked.

The wizard gazed at him blankly for a moment then snapped, “What do you mean by ‘of where?’”

“What town are you a mayor of?" Snodgrass repeated slowly, as if he spoke to an imbecile. "It’s a simple enough question.”

“I’m not the mayor of any town!” Grandelf cried.

“Then why did you say you were a mayor?”

“No he didn’t,” said Bwalin, who did not like arguments of any kind. “Grandelf said he was a ‘Mair’.” The old dwarf smiled suddenly, “And he’s not a horse either!”

Everyone laughed.

“Quite right, dear Bwalin,” Grandelf said, giving the dwarf a fond look. (Everyone liked Bwalin).

“Is that the same as a ‘Mayan’ then?” Snodgrass asked.

“Yes, that’s sounds right,” Bwalin said sagely, “I trust you’re thinking of the ‘Mayans’ from South America, of course. The singular is ‘Mair’ – odd as that might seem…”

Grandelf laughed gaily, “No, no, dear Bwalin - though that’s an easy mistake to make. No, the word you look for is pronounced ‘Mair-ren’ not Mayan. It’s spelt M-A-I-R-N. At the risk of repeating myself: I’m a Mair - from the Blessed Isle of Eleanor, you know.”

“I didn’t know #!*^*#! Eleanor was in #!*^*#! South America,” Fowly said in surprise.

“That’s because it’s not,” Grandelf retorted in a slightly miffed superior tone. “Let me help you if I may young Fowly. The potato came from South America, the Shimmyrils came from Eleanor! Does that help?”

Fowly’s eyes now took a queer inward looking slant, as if he sought answers within but could only find more questions. This was born out when at last he blurted, “Where the #!*^ is ‘Eleanor’ anyway?”

“Oh off in the west somewhere,” Grandelf said vaguely.

“Well, isn’t South America in the distant south-west,” put in Bango, trying to reconcile the geographic confusion. He also loved maps but did not have a clue how to read one. “It could be the same place!”

Grandelf smiled tolerantly, “Please try not to be a pumpkin head if you can help it, dear Bango.”

“Well, maybe you could sail west,” Bango suggested undaunted, becoming more involved in the conversation than he had intended to, “but tack southward just before you get to Eleanor. After that it would be just be a hop and skip and a jump to South America, wouldn’t it?”

“Bango,” Grandelf said as patiently as he could, “No hobwit or dwarf can sail near Eleanor."

“Why not?” asked all the dwarfs at once.

“Because Eleanor is a Very Special Place,” Grandelf answered patiently, “My goodness! It’s the Blessed Isle! It’s the home of the Valero, for El’s sake!”

“‘Valero’ does sound Latino…” Snodgrass commented. “Hey! I just thought of something. Can you get there, Grandelf? To Eleanor, I mean.”

“Of course I can!” Grandelf snapped, so abruptly they all jumped. Then Grandelf thought a moment, gave a small embarrassed cough, and added, “Well, at least I’ll get back in when ‘They’ in their wisdom decide to let me back in.”

“How do we get there then?” Bumbur persisted. "If we can't sail there, I mean."

“For you it’s impossible,” Grandelf said smugly, “Didn't I just say that? Eleanor is reserved for certain special people, dear Bumbur. It's a place for… ah... well, special people - like me, for instance.”

"Yeah for special people," Snodgrass sniggered, “like Grandelf!”

Biffo butted in now. “Oh right! So this is how it works: if you’re the mayor of some hokey little town in South America that no one has even heard of, you can get in, but if you’re a hard working miner-cum-travelling-musician, you can’t!”

Grandelf spluttered, “I told you, I’m not the mayor of some South American town! Have you even been listening?”

“Isn’t Eleanor that place the elfs come and go to?” Thorny Oakenbeard asked rather sourly.

“It is,” Grandelf said, still trying to contain his annoyance.

“#*!^#! elfs!” Fowly muttered under his breath.

“Perhaps we might change the subject,” Bwalin placated them.

“Yes,” Thorny put in grumpily. “The mere mention of elfs makes my corns throb!”

“I don’t mind talking about elfs,” Bango said meekly.

“What did you say?” everyone asked, scowling at him.

“Well, I wouldn’t mind talking about the elfs.”

“Oh wouldn’t you?” scoffed everyone (except Grandelf).

“No, I wouldn’t actually. I really like them you see.”

“That’s because you’ve never met any,” Boppo said in a snide way.

“Yes, I have!”

“No you haven’t!”

“I have, I say!” Bango said with a blush. “I met one in the woods east of Hobwiton one starry evening when I was barely out of my Tweeds… It was quite a few years ago, I grant you…”

“No you didn’t!” all the dwarfs but one cried.

“Yes, I did. She was a beautiful elfish lady…!”

This claim was greeted by an explosion of derisive laughter.

“Yeah, sure you did!” all of them said, one after the other. “What was her name then?”

“I…. I… I didn’t think to ask…”

Twelve dwarfs roared with laughter, but Thorny yelled out impatiently: “Enough of this nonsense! Hey! You slobs, tidy up the dishes. Then maybe we can get drunk and have a deep and meaningful conversation!”

Suddenly, Bango forgot all about elfish maidens and comfy leafy forest floors under the Evenstar, for every dwarf (except Thorny who was far too self-important) jumped up and laid their grubby calloused hands on his cutlery and plates.

Bango jumped up in a panic. “Oh never mind! I can do it!” he squealed.

Unfortunately, his distress only seemed to encourage the dwarfs. In fact, they burst into song, which is something dwarfs often do when they’re working, ‘Hi Ho Hi Ho’ being their definite favorite, as you would already know, though on this occasion they decided to improvise.


Grab the Host and close the curtains!
Beat the rodent until he is hurtin’!
Wrap him in dough! Roll him in flour!
(Oh look at the blighter! See how he cowers!)

Grab both his legs, pull down his trousers!
Get a good hold of the timid old wowser!
Wrestle him down on his plush carpet!
Then paint his buttocks with a red target!

Slap him! Spank him! Don't be too soft!
Tickle his tackle. Let's see if he coughs!
Oh everyone line up, and don’t hesitate!
But carefully! Carefully! Don’t chip the plates!


Of course, the dwarfs did none of these awful things, and in a trice every dish, fork and napkin was cleaned up and put neatly away, while little Bango was left to quiver on the hearth rug.

“All right everyone,” Grandelf bellowed after everything was put in good order. “Off into the dining room! We’ll sit around Bango’s surprisingly long fourteen-seat table and get down to some serious business.” The wizard looked down kindly at the little hobwit. “You’ll have to sit on the dining room hearthrug I'm afraid, dear Bango.”

“But…”

Grandelf cut Bango off, “Now, now, let’s not go over that what’s-in-a-good-host-however-painful business again!”

“But…”

Bwalin bent down and laid a steadying hand on his shoulder, the end of the dwarf's beard tickling his ear, “Come along, my fuzzy-footed friend. You know how we dislike all this ‘but’ behavior of yours.”

“What ‘butt’ behavior," Biffo called from across the dining room. Bango could see him through the adjoining doorway, a look of stern interest on his battle-beaten face. “He’s not a poof, is he?”

“No, not at all,” Bwalin laughed (he had a very nice laugh), “Oh Biff, you’ve gone up the entirely wrong passage again - as usual!” And the old dwarf laughed again. And so did everyone else, except Bango - and Biffo, who continued to stare at the hobwit disconcertingly.

Once they were all seated (with Bango on the hearthrug), Grandelf began immediately.

“Dear dwarfs and hobwit, I have gathered you here for a specific reason….”

“I hope you’re going to keep this short!” Thorny Oakenbeard interrupted. “Don’t go telling us a heap of stuff we already know!”

“Well, if that's how it must be” Grandelf said in an offended tone, “I’ll keep it short. Now everyone, there are many things we’ve discussed already, but I think it only fair to say that our audacious and implacable burglar-assassin doesn’t know the whole plan as yet…”

“I don’t know any part of the plan yet!” Bango squeaked, feeling all trembly inside.

“Yes, quite right. Now, Bango, as you are well aware, we are off to slay the biggest, scariest, fiercest, nastiest firedrake of these firedrake infested times – or, at least, you are! After that, you can help steal his treasure…”

“It’s my treasure!” Thorny Oakenbeard grumbled.

“Sorry,” Grandelf answered testily. “After you slay the firedrake, Bango, you can help steal Thorny’s treasure! The chances are, of course, that Smug will roast you on sight, and then eat you quick as this...” Grandelf popped a small piece of seed-cake into his be-whiskered mouth. “If so, the dwarfs will come back empty-handed….”

This was all very distressing really - though at least now the hobwit knew what the Mythological Beast was that Grandelf had referred to yesterday. They wanted him to kill Smug the Firedrake! Bango shuddered. At the mention of ‘Smug will roast you on sight,’ the poor little fellow felt a shriek rise in his voice-box. And when he heard: ‘the dwarfs will come back empty-handed’ he became horribly indignant. “Those selfish bastards!” he was thinking. “I mean to say, aren’t they prepared to help me in a tight spot!” The shriek that had risen in his voice-box now sprang out from his mouth like a high pitched whistle. It was a shriek full of terror and furious anger – though it came across to the others as pure hysteria. In fact, it sounded to the dwarfs like he had gone quite mad.

Fortunately Boppo, who had once worked at the BLUDICROSS HOME FOR THE APPARENTLY INSANE, knew exactly what to do. The brawny battle-hardened dwarf jumped off his chair, launched himself at Bango, and knocked him flat using an open handed cuffing motion, so as not to leave any telltale bruising.

Everything went dark grey, and streaky orange-red, and wispy…




...




Gradually, Bango swam back up into consciousness. Where was he? Oh! He was on his dining room hearthrug! Then he overheard conversation – it was Groin talking.

“One shriek like that echoing in the bowels of Mount Solitaire and not only will Smug be on us, but so will his mother, father and second cousin Julian!”

“I assure you, our burglar-assassin has nerves of steel!” Grandelf reassured him. “He was only a little overexcited just now.”

“Well, he looks more like a worrier than a warrior,” Groin commented cynically (and Snodgrass sniggered). “He made a noise like a train whistle issuing from a railway tunnel!”

“I can’t begin to tell you how anachronistic that sounds!” Dwarfen put in.

“Yes, and you’re a woman and so you’d know, isn’t that right!” Groin snapped at her.

Grandelf thrust out his eyebrows angrily, “Groin, son of Swoin, son of Quoin, I’m ashamed of you! Dwarfen has as much a right to speak her mind in this company as any of us, irrespective of how esoteric and typically womanly her comments!”

“Yes,” Thorny Oakenbeard said, “Just because she’s a woman doesn’t mean we should treat what she says any differently than the actual males in this party!”

“All right, I take it back, Dwarfen,” Groin grumbled, “but I still think Bango sounded like a train whistle!”

Groin now turned to glare across at Bango.

“Just look at him! He’s more your petty-thief creep-up-behind type, not a genuine burglar-assassin! And I wish he’d stop bobbing up and down on the hearthrug!”

By now Bango had recovered enough from his cuff to the head to exclaim angrily, “I’m not bobbing - I’m trying to get a crick out of my neck! And, by the way, you’re right: I’m not a burglar-assassin!”

“You are, you know,” Grandelf said fondly.

“No, I’m not!”

“Well, you did steal into Mayor Whitefeet’s house...”

“I did not! Primadonna invited me in!”

“Ah! Yes! And you stole a kiss or two from her, did you not?”

“She gave them away freely!”

“And what about this business I heard of you stabbing old Whitefeet in the back...”

“It was only metaphorically!”

“The point is,” Grandelf said, “we need someone small and sneaky to come with us; someone who has very few scruples; someone that can creep in and find a way to assassinate a gigantic firedrake when he’s not looking – or sleeping.... Shut up! Don’t interrupt, Bango! I’m talking now...! Where was I...? Oh yes, we also need another Conspirator to come along, or else be stuck with thirteen dwarfs – and that's an unlucky number in anyone’s language!”

“Well, there are fourteen of you already!” Bango yelled incredulously (and somewhat hopefully).

“I hope you’re not including me in that count,” Grandelf said sternly. “I’ll come along for part of the journey, yes, but I’ll leave you long before you reach Mount Solitaire.”

“Why?”

“I’m off to do something we’ll probably only find out about later,” Grandelf said.

“Huh?”

“Let’s not argue like this, old friend, I’m trying to help you!”

Desperately, Bango gasped, “Even if I could kill a firedrake, I could never steal his property! I’m not a thief, no matter what people say!”

The thirteen dwarfs burst out in laughter.

“What?” Bango wanted to know.

“So say you!” Bwalin put in. “But aren’t you the selfsame hobwit that even now has Biffo’s stolen cloak hanging on a peg in the hallway?”

“Oh!” Bilbo thought, blushing. “So these are those dwarfs...!”

“It does seem ironic that it was you who stole my cloak last March,” Biffo said and gave him a sardonic smile. “The two of us being what we are, and all...”

“No we’re not!” Bango squeaked, knowing exactly what the brawny tattooed dwarf was getting at. “What I mean is: I’m not like you at all!”

Grandelf said, “That is as may be, Bango – the point is, you seem to have exhausted all your arguments against coming along. Let’s move on, shall we?”

The wizard began to rummage around within his cloak and pulled out a curious map and an odd shaped key.

“What are they?” Thorny Oakenbeard asked.

“They’re a curious map and an odd shaped key, Thorny. Curios you’re grandfather Horny had. At least, I’m fairly sure he was Horny. I took them from him in the dungeons of the Necromuncher.”

Everyone gasped in horror at the mention of that chilling name (or title). Even Bango, an unworldly hobwit (to some degree) of The Riding, had heard of the Necromuncher.

“You mean to say you snuck into the Necromuncher's dark tower?” Thorny Oakenbeard asked, as he unfolded the map on Bango’s fourteen-seat table. “How ever did you manage that?”

“Well, I didn’t exactly sneak in,” Grandelf said. “You see, many years ago I popped into Doll Goldigger to discuss a few topical things, and when I was there the Necromuncher showed me around. As a consequence I was shown into Horny’s cell. I discovered your poor relative in an absolutely parlous state. Fortunately, however, he had this map and the key, so my time was not totally wasted. They were the last of his worldly goods, as even his clothes had rotted away by then. Anyway, I immediately asked the Necromuncher if I could take the map and key. You see, it was utterly obvious Horny’s brain was sheer mush, and it was not like he was ever going to be able to use them again! The curios, that is – and nor his brains neither!” Grandelf giggled at his little joke, but regained control when confronted by Thorny’s somewhat accusing glance. “Anyway, here’s the key.”

“You took them from my grandfather!” Thorny mouthed in utmost surprise, as he stared bleakly from map to key and back again.

“Well, at least on the balance of probabilities it was your Grandfather! There is a small chance it was actually Corny, your father. Whoever he was, he couldn’t remember his own name as he lay there in a pool of his own rotting juices. But he was the spitting image of you Thorny, even if his face was seriously eaten away with dungeon-rot and maggots. It’s the likeness with you that makes me think he was Horny not Corny. Anyway, I saw that the map was a map of Mount Solitaire - with a secret door marked on it - and as the key appeared to go with the map, I thought I’d grab them as they might come in useful at some stage.”

“The Necromuncher just let you take them?” Thorny asked in amazement.

“Well, it's not like I didn't ask nicely,” Grandelf said, somewhat sheepishly. “And, remember, it was quite a few years ago, long before he turned nasty. Muckwood is a very bad environment if you ask me,” he added, somewhat confidentially. “And, yes, perhaps we should have seen it coming – no wonder the Necromuncher turned, if you know what I mean? You know, he was such a handsome chap, the Necromuncher, all shiny... and very charming... with a lovely fetching smile...almost effeminate…”

“But what about the way he treated my grandfather?”

“Well Horny had been caught snooping around - and the penal code of the times being what it was...”

“Hey!” yelled Snorey suddenly. “You must know who the Necromuncher is then!”

“No, not really,” Grandelf replied, again somewhat sheepishly. “I forgot to ask... They were happier times, you see.... In those days you could meet people but not feel the need to ask intrusive questions – trusting times... Mind you, I admit I had a terrible feeling he was faking it even then....”

Thorny asked, “Why didn’t you mention all this before?”

“Oh I wanted to surprise you,” Grandelf said and smiled suddenly and triumphantly. “Oh Thorny, I do know how much you love surprises!”

All the other dwarfs laughed and wagged their beards knowingly – except Dwarfen who just nodded her head. “He does, you know,” they all said. “Hey Thorny, he’s quite right, isn’t he!”

Thorny frowned at Grandelf at first, but then he smiled. “Yes," he chuckled, "You’ve got me there, dear, dear Grandelf. It’s so true! I just love surprises. Oh it's just so-oh true!” And he laughed again – they all did.

But their merriment was short lived, for Bango asked suddenly, “What topical things did you discuss with the Necromuncher, Grandelf?”

Grandelf cast a disapproving glance. “Oh a few things... but never you mind. Anyway, everyone, it’s all settled now! We've got our Mr. Lucky Number Burglar-assassin, and a very useful map, and a very useful key as well, and, of course, thirteen stout dwarfs to carry back the treasure after Bango stabs Smug to death. Things have worked out perfectly...”

“No they haven’t,” Bango protested shrilly, “As if I could kill the nastiest firedrake in Western Europe since Sarkastic the Insensitive! The very idea is ludicrous! I’m only three foot three!”

“Oh I wish you’d stop beating that dead horse, Bango!” Grandelf said severely. "You might be a short-arse - but not by hobwit standards!"

“Anyway, Mr. Bigguns,” Bwalin put in encouragingly, “it’s not the size of the hobwit it’s the size of the fight in the hobwit that matters!”

“Let’s have another song!” Ignory yelled out suddenly, because it was well and truly his turn to say something.

“Good idea,” Thorny cried. “Go and get our camping-equipment-cum-musical instruments everyone!”

So off they ran into the hallway.

“Just grab my harp-cum-portable-clothesline, lads,” Thorny called after them, “but don’t forget to un-peg my socks!”

After that, they retired to the sitting-room, and as soon as Biffo and Boppo had plugged their electric-guitars-cum-axes into the Power-Orbs Bango had only recently bought from the Magical Mystery Company outlet in Needlegap, the dwarfish orchestra struck up a cacophonous music…

Then the Company stopped for a few seconds while Bwalin cleaned grass out the end of his flute-cum-walking-stick…

Then the dwarfish orchestra struck up once again. And I assure you, the music they struck up could definitely be described as peculiarly interesting. Next thing, the dwarfs started singing. It was the deep throated slightly gay singing of dwarfs in their deep ancestral caverns, coal pits and storm-water tunnels:


Far beyond the far off Mushy Mountains,
Past all those trees and lakes with fountains,
We must away ere break of day - not later! -
To go and kill that big and nasty fire-gator.

In days of yore, if not before, at least ages ago,
Smug came flying south and struck a great blow,
His trampling feet and fiery breath killed heaps of us,
He powered through our Mountain like a runaway bus.

And now that firedrake has all our valuables,
Diamonds, gems, and metals malleable!
He’s got our each and every special stone,
Including the more than famous Farkenstone!

Oh we must away early come the morning dim,
To wrest our marvelous treasure from that Crim!


And then the music and the voices fell silent - which was just as well, because it was the worst song Bango had ever heard.

“Off to bed now!” Grandelf called out in a jolly voice. “Or else we’ll sleep in and therefore make the song incorrect in at least one detail.”

Bango wanted to ask more questions but Grandelf poked him with his staff a few times and shooed him protesting off to his bedroom. Once inside, the hobwit noticed Biffo’s brawny shadow lurking in the passageway, so he quickly locked the door. With nothing better to do, he got ready for bed. He was feeling all knotty and upset in the stomach, as well he might, and it did not help when he glanced out his window and saw a huge mass of flame shoot up over the slums of East Hobwiton. It made him think of firedrakes settling, fires blazing, on his beloved Hump…

Just then, Thorny Oakenbeard began to sing in the room next to him:


“Far beyond the far off Mushy Mountains,
Past all those trees and lakes with fountains…”


Bango shuddered again, and he swiftly put in earplugs. He sincerely hoped there would not be too much singing in the days ahead…


Last edited by The Archet Bugle on Tue May 15, 2012 11:34 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Post by The Archet Bugle on Tue May 15, 2012 12:22 am

Chapter Two:
Mutton as Lamb



Bango woke with a start. His room was full of sunshine because he had left the curtains open and his eyes were quite watery for awhile. His head throbbed slightly. Was last night a dream? He hoped so.

Cautiously, he got up and opened his door. The coast seemed clear. Slowly and anxiously he searched his hole, but there were no dwarfs anywhere, especially Biffo. But there was a horrendous mess, pizza cartons under the kitchen table, knickers on the lamp stands, an open “Woman’s Monthly” on the kitchen table, as well as the usual debris left after a dwarf soiree, awful really.

“I suppose I’ll have to clean up,” said our Bango, surprised at how crestfallen he felt.  

He pinched himself.

“Ouch!”

“Well, stop feeling so crestfallen.”

“It’s just...”

“It’s just – what?”

"Well, I might have liked to meet the elfs..."

“You’re mad. No one even mentioned meeting them.”

"I reckon there's a fair chance..."

"So you really regret not going with them?"

"Amazing but... I am you know.”

"You are mad!“

"No, I'm not!"

"You’re talking to yourself, that’s a sure sign.”

"No I'm... ... ... Oh well, I better tidy up.”

"You’ll have to do it on your lonesome, I’m still hung-over.”

"‘Lazy blighter!’" Bango exclaimed in exasperation.

And Bango didn’t care if Bango heard or not. And you'd be exasperated too, if you had to clean up seven pools of dwarf vomit. And several pools of urine, and… It went on.

But there was nothing for it, his hole needed cleaning.

Then, hey presto, in no time at all, certainly no more than two and three quarter hours, his hole was reasonably clean, to a point, after a fashion. As you already know, Bango was fat and lazy, but perhaps he was over compensating for his disappointment at not going on an adventure. As you probably know, fat lazy people sometimes get a burst of energy... sometimes... in fairy stories... especially if they miss out on doing something they'd like to do, even if, really, they know deep down they wouldn't like it if they actually did do it, especially if it involved physical exertion and missing out on meals, even one....

Anyway, Bango had not quite got around to dusting behind the clock on the mantle shelf, but was just about to, when Grandelf turned up - about eleven.

“What the hell are you doing, Bango?” the wizard addressed him severely. “You’re late!”

“For what?” Bango asked.

“If you had cleaned behind the clock this morning you would know exactly what I mean.”

“Well, I was just about to.”

“No you weren’t, you liar.”

"I was you know..."

"It makes for a nice change then, by all accounts - and oh my! such a veritable coincidence!"

Bango did not like the supercilious look Grandelf gave him just then. “Yes I was!” he cried indignantly. “I was leaving it to last.”

“Yeah, sure were! You know, if you had been in the habit of dusting behind the clock on the mantle shelf - bad planning on my part, really - you would have found my note and saved people valuable time, and people do have to go to bed what's more; especially little children. And they’ve got short attention spans too. And isn’t this bit getting a bit long already?”

“What?”

Grandelf thrust out his eyebrows beyond his nose sternly. “Look behind the clock!”

Bango reluctantly felt behind the clock.

He found Grandelf’s fore mentioned note and read it out aloud.


“’Dear Bango,

Hurry up. The dwarfs are waiting
for you down at the "Thorny Shrub.’”

Grandelf Offwhite


Bango was confused; “The ‘Thorny Shrub’?”

“The one that’s beside the ‘Rosie Bush’ - now off you go.”

“But...”

"You’re late, you’re late; you’re very very late!”

"What about a handkerchief? I'll need to pack at least one!”

"Forget it Bango, the dwarfs used them all to pack their breakables - and Snodgrass’s snuffle-stone!”

And so off Bango ran, all the way down to the Rosie Bush in Hobwiton, by the Puddle. He was blowing like a steam train when he got there, and whistling like a kettle, because it was eight miles, and some of it uphill. When he got there...

Oh is that the time! Off to bed now, well past six. Off you go now.



***


Where was I? Who took my bookmark out? ... Oh here it is, slipped into the middle of the page... mmm...

And so, off Bango ran, all the way down to the Rosie Bush in Hobwiton, by the Puddle. He was blowing like a steam train when he got there, and whistling like a kettle, because it was eight miles, and some of it uphill.

Just as he was puffing up the road, a dwarf lead a pony around the thorny shrub, loaded with all sorts of packages and parcels of all shapes and sizes. The dwarf was quite unusual. He was six foot two tall, clean shaven, long of limb but strong looking, with yellow hair and an aquiline nose, not too pointy, but not too rounded or bulbous at the end. He wore a knitted vest, green in color, long brown breaches - somewhat besmirched - and stout red boots; weathered but still in good enough condition for long treks over hill and through forest. On his handsome head - and he was very handsome - he wore a felt hat with a hatpin shaped in the likeness of a dragonfly. His eyes were those "come to bed eyes" you see in men who have spent time in Budapest. A strange kind of dwarf really, not the kind one often saw in Hobwiton, though sometimes in the western outskirts. Bango had never seen him before. He looked like a Man actually.

An indeed, he was a man...

Bango rubbed his eyes as he stood puffing in the road. Funny how that happens, how you see what you expect to see when you expect to see a dwarf, but then you realize it isn't a dwarf at all. Bango had to laugh. As you would too in those circumstances, that's if it ever happened to you, unless you were humorless of course, because then you might just get annoyed with yourself, or get your eyes tested, or get some help from a professional. Mind, you might do one of those things even if you had a good sense of humor. This is what one would call a ‘veritable lesson from life.’

Bango had not been standing there long when one of the dwarfs appeared under the verandah of the Rosie Bush. It was Fowly.

"Where the #$%& have you been?" Fowly turned around and shouted back into the tavern. "He's here: the little *^#@!"

"You know, you should really clean up your act, Fowly," Bango rebuked him, "There may be children reading this story - or at listening to it. And, to e perfectly frank, I think enough’s enough!"

Fowly gave the hobwit a supercilious glance, then squinted, then looked thoughtful a moment, then scratched his worn nobbly nose, stroked his long beard pensively.

At last, after what seems an interminable time to the reader (and/or listener) Fowly mused: "Strange kettle of fish!"

Now this might not be exactly what you were expecting, but as this is a true book I felt obliged put it in.

Just then Dwarfen appeared around the side of the Rosie Bush, leading a line of thirteen ponies - Shetlands I think - the fat succulent ones that hobgobblers like eating - loaded up with all sorts of useful things for quests, including all their musical camping equipment.

Moments later the other dwarfs came bundling out of the tavern, burping and farting, having had a lovely greasy breakfast of bacon, beans and bubble’n’squeak, washed down with tan ale.

In a trice (or close to it) a long line of dwarf riders were trundling happily out along the Great East Road with Bango bobbing up and down happily on the very last pony. He was sitting inside a drum-cum-cooking-pot on a cushion Dwarfen put there for him. Indeed, he was thinking adventures might not be so bad, after all. The sun was shining, there was not a cloud in the sky, and Grandelf was nowhere to be seen.

Things turned soured pretty quick though, the sky became clogged with heavy black cloud, a chill wind blew up, and Grandelf turned up on a huge white horse.

About six hours later they came to a river (which might have been the Bramblyvine, but as the map in "Our Lady of the Bangle" had not been drawn yet, no one knows for sure. It probably was though).

The grey matted sky by now was thoroughly rain-laden and soon burst, just as they were trying to get dinner started.

Poin and Groin got into a verbal argument about lighting fires. The wind began to howl. Everything was dark. All the other dwarfs began moaning about things, and the rain saturated them. Biffo snuggled beside Bango on a rock.

"Where is that wizard when his magic could light these saturated sticks?" Poin groaned.

"Come to think of it, where has he gone?" Thorny wanted to know.

"Yes," put in Bumbur. "He was only here for one sentence and now he's gone again."

"And where's Dwarfen gone?" Snodgrass asked superciliously.

"Maybe Grandelf is lighting his own fire," Biffo whispered huskily in Bango's ear.

There was a clap of thunder, Poin and Groin started a fist fight, the ponies ran off in a panic and jumped into the river that was raging a torrent – as they tend to do in such circumstances - and Biffo made a grab for Bango, who rolled away with alacrity. By the time they got the ponies out of the river all the foodstuffs were gone, and the musical camp equipment too.

They sat in a huddle by the ponies. Bango was thinking adventures were not always a ride in summer sunshine - though, he had to concede, even though he was cold and wet and miserable, that parts of them could be.

"You've got yourself into a fine fix, Mr. Bigguns,” Bango groaned within. “Didn't your mother tell you that it's a dangerous road when you step out your front door, especially if the weather changes suddenly - or was that someone else?"

Things were pretty bleak. But then Bango saw a fire burning brightly in some trees on a nearby hill.

"Fire!" he yelled.

This caused some happy consternation among the dwarfs when he pointed it out to them - and some doubt.

"That could be Grandelf," said Growly after some discussion. "I mean, it's pissing down and that wizard's the only one I know of who can burn sodden kindling!"

"Too right, but we can't risk it," Thorny said as he rubbed his wet and haggard chin. "We'll have to send off our burglar to check it out, just in case it's three trolls or something. Yes, he can sneak up and check, and if there are three trolls, he can sneak back and tell us."

"What if it's not three trolls though?" squeaked our Mr. Bigguns.

The dwarfs discussed this possibility for awhile, but then the sky began to light up like Christmas, lightning everywhere, and they decided to send Bango anyhow.

"I'll go and cover his back, shall I?" said Biffo.

"Oh no, I'll go alone," Bango squeaked. "Sneaky chap, I am - very sneaky - sneaky, yes indeed!" And the flummoxed little fellow trotted off, up into the dark trees, toward the fire that burned merrily, in the middle of nowhere.


"Now look what you've got yourself into," Bango rebuked himself as he pushed through dripping foliage in the dark. "What gave you the idea you could be a professional burglar, sneaking around in the bushes, hiding behind trees, almost invisible in the shadows, looking out for elfs - oh I'm not looking for elfs. What am I looking for? Oh dear! Oh my goodness, what if it is three trolls!?"

Now, you might say that the chance of it being three trolls was a pretty long one, but... No, I won't say anything; best to keep it a surprise.

After what seemed an interminable time (though not by Elfish standards), the hobwit crept up into the shadows just beyond the reach of the flickering firelight. Cautiously now, he peeped out from behind the trunk of a tree. And what he saw caught him by complete and utter surprise. In a small clearing he saw them, tall creatures; and tall hideously ugly creatures at that. They were trolls! Three of them! You can imagine his surprise.

Bango automatically sucked himself in so as to be as small as possible (just like you do when you're on the motorway and a large lorry comes past far too close for comfort), and he swiftly slunk behind the tree trunk, shaking like a leaf, a very fat one.

"Oh my," he said, "Oh my, oh my, oh my, oh my."

Now a wiser hobwit than Bango would have gone straight back and warned the others, but Bango had something queer in his makeup, that being an un-hobwit-like "curiosity", which was passed down to him by his Great Grandma, Annabel, who, according to Family History, was a cat, even if the more respectable members denied it. Even as Bango thought about it, he just knew somehow he would come to regret his next act; but Bango just had to take another peek around the tree, and that's exactly what he did, and boy did he come to regret it.

The three trolls were dressed in long frocks. That was the first surprise. They also had a lot of makeup on. That was the second surprise. The third surprise was, they weren't actually trolls at all – which is an unexpected twist, don’t you think? No, they weren’t trolls after all, they were Rangers!

These Rangers were the followers of Arrowhorn son of Arrowthorn, but you'll have to wait for a gold glimmering moment in "Our Lady of the Bangle" to meet him. Now, these Rangers were particularly theatrical ones, and they had not put on a pantomime for months, which explains why it turned out they were so alert for visitors – and not on the lookout – as they should have been - for the Necromuncher's evil spies. This is why they heard a twig crackle wetly under Bango's light footfall. In a trice they were on him and Bango was swept up, bound in a ribbon, and sat on a bench seat set out for just such a happy happenstance.

Bango was aghast. "You fool of a Bigguns," he thought morosely. "You're in for it now. I hope it's not Pirates of Penzance!"

"Oooh what brings you out in this chill dark moisty night?" said Dickson, their leader. (The other two were Thompson and Harold). "We've scouted this region for days, and couldn't even find a fox to entertain."

Thompson and Harold pressed forward to study the poor wretched little hobwit.

"What is he, anyway?" says Thompson. "Will he be brainy enough to appreciate Gilbert and Sullivan?"

"No one does, not really," Harold said sadly philosophic. "Not properly."

Dickson pushed them back. "Leave him alone. I feel sorry for the little bugger. I don't know if he'd last ten minutes before he falls off to sleep. Shame he's not a dwarf. They love our kind of thing."

"Never mind that," cries Harold. "This is what we've got, and if he only lasts ten minutes, then ten minutes it is. We can eat him after that."

"Eat him?" queries Thompson.

"Well, he is a rabbit of some kind, isn't he?"

"Looks more like a cat to me," says Dickson. "Oooh look how intelligent his eyes are - for a cat."

"I'm not a cat," Bango complained, "I'm a bur - ah -" and suddenly he realized that calling himself a burglar was not appropriate, for certain Rangers have a deep fear of burglars stealing their perfume, "- hobwit."

"A burrahobwit!" the three Rangers exclaimed. "What in heck's a burrahobwit?"

"You're not a small brand of dwarf, are you?" Harold asked hopefully.

"No, I'm not," Bango cried. "I'm a hobwit."

"Oooh I've heard of 'em," says Dickson clapping his hands. "Show us your feet then... Ooh look how cute and fuzzy they are!"

"What's going on here then?" cried a stout dwarfish voice from the dark beneath the trees.

"Watch out," Bango cried. "It's three pantomimers of the worst kind! Run away! Go and tell the others!"

"They're all here with me," said the dwarf and Bango realized it was Thorny.

"You didn't send them one by one?"

"Why the @#$%^ would we ever do that?" Fowly’s voice wanted to know.

"Ooh an audience!" Harold clapped, and as quick as you could say 'Oscar Wilde', the dwarfs were bound in ribbons and set on the bench seats.

I won't tell you what happened after that, all I will say is that it was indeed "Pirates of Penzance," but more gay than you could ever imagine. Bango passed out after only nine minutes, but the dwarfs loved it, especially Biffo. It lasted for twelve hours, until the light broke the sky at dawn. That's when Grandelf and Dwarfen came back.

"Be off with you," cried the wizard as he strode in, limping slightly. "Or I'll report you to Arrowhorn!"

And Dickson, Thompson and Harold disappeared into the trees like they had never existed, and without an encore. As he ran, a curious key fell out of Dickson's purse.

Grandelf and Dwarfen quickly untied the dwarfs and Bango. And once the dwarfs had thanked Bango profusely a hundred times for the floorshow, they headed off in search of a cave with a door that Grandelf - having picked up the dropped key - was sure would be in the proximity.

"I know these particular Ranger types," Grandelf said. "They'll have somewhere safe to keep their make-up boxes and curlers."

Sure enough, they found a cave with a door in it. Once inside they found all sorts of things, mainly clothing and makeup, but also two swords from the ancient kingdoms of Gondwizzawin and Narkonthebong. Grandelf could tell they had been made a long age ago, but didn't know they were famous swords. (Bango found a nifty elfish knife that looked like a pigsticker - which Almond confirmed later too). Only later did Almond, Lord of Riverdale, tell him that, and only because that wise Elf knew.

"Is there any food here?" Bumbur grumbled.

"We lost all our baggage while you were off with Dwarfen, Grandelf,” Thorny told Grandelf. “What were you doing anyway?"

"I can only find pate and flasks of diet beverage - oh and this asparagus - but it will have to do," Bumbur told them.  

Ignoring him, Thorny pressed, “What were you doing, Grandelf?"

"Wizard's business," Grandelf told him mysteriously.

Dwarfen giggled.

Grandelf grimaced - though it hinted a ghost of a smile.

Grandelf suddenly raised his voice, imperiously, "Don't ask again, ye dwarfs! For a wizard's business is mysterious, and a wizard is quick to anger, but fair minded, though sometimes arrogant - don't ask more of me than that!"

"So what's the plan now?" Thorny wanted to know, clearly annoyed that the wizard had been so mysterious, to judge from his scowl.

"Well, there is a secret place, hidden at the foot of the Mushy Mountains, a safe place, and not two days from here – indeed, more like three. It's a place where Almond Half-the-Elf rules."

"Do you mean Riverdale?" Bango asked.

Grandelf's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "How did you know of that deep riven secret valley known only to the Wise?"

"An elf princess told me about it."

Everyone broke out in laughter at that.

"There he goes again," quipped Biffo. "Dear deluded Bango and his elfin maids!"

And, with spirits so raised, they went back to their ponies, forded the river which might have been the Bramblyvine, and set out on the Great West Road, which started on the other side of the ford to the Great East Road.

They now had gone beyond the Not-so-Wild parts and had entered the Very-Wild-parts. And Bango, seeing all the strange trees, and shrubs, and ruminants along the way (or strange to him who had never been far from civilized hobbit parts), was thinking, "I hope nothing else bad happens on this dangerous quest."

But he was wrong, and not for the last time, nor the first.


Last edited by The Archet Bugle on Wed May 16, 2012 12:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Post by The Archet Bugle on Tue May 15, 2012 1:31 am

Chapter Three
A Very Short Chapter



The scenery the Company now travelled through to Riverdale was picturesque beyond belief, but it would be absolutely boring to describe it. Indeed, it would take at least seven chapters to describe adequately, and not even Tolkien would do that, and he passed away in 1973 when people had more time for describing scenery and no time for the internet, which possibly didn't even exist then. Anyhow, they reached secret Riverdale in about four days.

Riverdale was a valley, deep driven into the toe of one of the feet of one of the snow tipped mountains of the Mushy Mountains, but nothing much happened to progress the story there, just a bit about finding things out from Almond Half-the-Elf. For instance that the two swords they'd found in the Ranger's cave were elfish swords made in Gondwizzawin and Narkonthabong (which I hope I've spelled correctly). (Bango's blade was elfish too - a homely pigsticker, actually - and he decided to call it 'Pigsticker'). The swords were called Beastie and Bambi, not even Almond knew why. And Almond looked at Thorny's map and made some comments about moonlight on doorsteps (though it could have been Bango back in Hobwiton, it's not important); and there was mention of not going into caves high in the mountains under any circumstances; and Bango got caught in the trees with no trousers on, but he said it was only because he was sleep walking, and he had had no idea that elfs would be dancing naked under the Evenstar.

Oh I forgot how they came to Riverdale...

The company rode down a long circuitous track toward a deep driven river. Heaps of trees were everywhere too. Just as they reached the bottom of the valley they came to a bridge and voices were raised amid the trees on the slopes.

"Be careful you don't fall in the river, Thorny, you might get wet,"

Another voice yelled, "Grandelf, your beard has leaves in it."

And another voice: "Is that a burglar you have with you? Are you going off to raid firedrake nests again?"

Grandelf called back gaily, "The hills have ears here, my friends, so please don't make assertions that might embarrass us or reveal our secrets. Instead, why not fill the hills with the sound of music?"

"As long as there’s no yodeling," Growly growled.

So the elfs began singing, and the singing was beautiful, and sweet, but not like cheap chocolate, more like real French chocolate.

"Tra la la lally,
You dwarves are quite smelly,
And Grandelf, you drunk,
Have you eaten a skunk?
And Biffo and Bango,
Have you done tango?
in June,
ha ha.

La la lilies,
Show us your willies,
But be careful,
It's chilly,
And Growly and Fowly,
How's your great Irish Unk Howley?
in May, ho ho.

Do do do doo-oo,
Is Grandelf a guru,
Or just an old crank,
With too much fuel in his tank
For poor hairy Dwarfen?
in August or Spring,
tra la.

Ling ling the ding ding,
Please join in our sing sing,
And Bumbur
Do you hunger?
Will there be tears, Dear?
For there is only health food here,
in Summer and March,
yo-ho-de-lah."


Now, you might think this a silly kind of song, but as it was sung in Elfish, it sounded very uplifting and the tired company found themselves moved and relieved by it after their hard journeying so far.

Anyway, as I mentioned at the start of this chapter, not much else worth mentioning happened at Riverdale, and after about two weeks, the company rode out higher into the valley.

(Of course, in "Our Lady of the Bangle" Almond Half-the-Elf will get a bigger part, for he was a very important character, but Bango only found that out much later).

At their leave taking, Almond stood on his balcony in shimmering clothes. "Remember," he yelled (in Eastwestron so they could understand what he was saying). "Don't go into any cave high in the pass, especially with those tasty ponies if any one chances to be the gobbler’s Front Door."

"As if we'd be that stupid," Growly growled.

"Yeah," Snodgrass mumbled cynically. "Does Almond think we're dickheads?"

"*&^%$#' elfs," stated Fowly.
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Post by The Archet Bugle on Tue May 15, 2012 2:17 am

Chapter Four
The Dwarfs, the Wizard and the Hobwit are ambushed in a Cave high in the Mushy Mountains by Gobblers (Unexpectedly)


Bango was sad to see the Last Homely House dwindling into the distance down below him, even as he bounced around on the back of a pony, tied on with string and some of Dwarfen’s ribbons. He‘d miss the fine French food, the elfish chorusing, and the artistic expressionistic dancing. Tears brimmed in his eyes at the thought of that dancing, for he was quite the connoisseur of all things naked, especially naked elfishness. Oh how beautiful the naked elfish dancing under tree and sky!

Now, I'm well aware that I told you earlier that Bango had been caught out watching the elfish naked dancing, and that he had explained it away as a case of "sleep walking." Since then, however, he had tried to explain to the dwarfs that he did also have "waking" interest in naked elfishness, maintaining that his interest had nothing to do with sex, or the hope of getting some; no, it was born of a spiritual desire to know beauty in its most sublime state, which perhaps had caused him, albeit unwittingly, to sojourn among the trees under the Evenstar, in something akin to a ‘sleep-state’, that one time he got caught with no trousers on under the Evenstar. When he articulated this explanation to the dwarfs, they laughed and told him he was full of crap.

Anyhow, at last, the multi-turreted roof of the Last Homey House was lost behind the serrated foliage of a gigantic globbyglooby tree and an outcrop of crystallized lazzapugels. Bango sighed deeply, wondering if he would ever return to that delightful secret valley.

Dwarfen was on the next pony in the long line of ponies ahead of him. She heard his sigh and said, “Do you miss that delightful secret valley already, Bango?" Being a Lady dwarf, Dwarfen was generally very intuitive.

But Bango could not speak just then, he just sighed even louder.

“My goodness, Bango,” Dwarfen said, now in some alarm, “What are you doing back there?”

“I'm sighing with heartfelt regret,” Bango said crossly. “What do you think I’m doing?”

“I daren’t ask.”

Bango frowned and fell silent again. The sudden realization he was stuck again with these boring dwarfs made him angry. They were definitely a pack of ignoramuses, nothing at all like the lovely intelligent, talented, shapely elfs.

Grandelf called back sternly from the head of the line, “What is that hobwit up to now?”

“Probably doing what we've always known all hobwits do in the quiet of their bower,” Snodgrass sneered from about half way along the line. "I daren't look neither!" And he chuckled cynically.

The dwarfs nearest Snodgrass broke out in laughter of the sniggering kind.

“Well, stop it, Bango,” Grandelf implored the hobwit. “There’s a time and place for everything, but up here on a narrow ledge above a precipice is definitely NOT the place for any ... err... hobwitizing of any kind... Bango! You’ll end up distracting someone and they’ll like as not plunge to a violent and untimely death.”

“What did you say he was doing?” Biffo asked with manifest curiosity from about two thirds along the line as he turned in his saddle to gaze keenly back at Bango.

“Watch the path,” his brother Boppo rebuked him.

“But why was he sighing?” Biffo asked in disgruntlement, though he got his eyes back on the path, and just in time to avoid plunging to a violent and untimely death.

“What do you think?” Boppo answered in a world weary voice.

"'Hobwitizing?' Is that what?"

"By all accounts, yes, didn’t you hear Grandelf say it? I daren't look neither."

“I wasn’t doing nothing!” Bango cried, joining in with the double negatives.

“You were 'sighing', dear Bango,” Bwalin said amiably from two sevenths in line. "You did 'that' at least. That’s not nothing…"

“That’s right,” Poin put in from a point about three point eighth along the line. “I heard him sighing, make no mistake.”

“Yeah,” put in Snodgrass, “I definitely heard it too.”

“So did I, clear as a bell,” Thorny cried, “and I‘m right up near the front.”

“See,” Poin averred. “Thorny’s right up behind Gandalf. How far is it? I reckon he must be thirty feet from you, Bango, and HE even heard it.”

“I didn’t say I didn’t sigh,” Bango yelled defensively.

“You did, you know,” Growly growled from about eighth in line. “Don’t lie about it.”

“I’m not lying. I never said I didn’t ‘sigh’.”

Grandelf called back, "We knew what you meant when you said, ‘I didn’t do nothing.’ That is what you actually said, you know. We obviously think what you meant to say was, 'I didn't do anything." Though it’s quite possible you meant exactly what you said. Did you mean by saying ‘I didn’t do nothing,” that you 'did' do something - in this case ‘sigh’?”

"No - err - yes --- what?"

“Sounds pretty *^%$*&@ conclusive to me,” Fowly approved, nodding his head, third in line.

“You idiots - you make no sense," Bango expostulated angrily, then hastily added, "But forget all that! All I want to say is: 'Yes, I did sigh'. That’s exactly what I did! And nothing else!”

Snodgrass sneered, “So why all that rot about ‘not doing nothing’. Hey! I knew exactly what you meant by ‘I didn't do nothing’ from the start. You didn’t for a moment mean that you had done ‘something’, you denied 'everything' to begin with - but nonetheless, despite your feeble protests, you did do "something" - and not something appropriate neither - not on a precipice anyway.”

“I never denied nothing!” Bango yelled in frustration. "Well, I did deny doing "something' ... but I didn't, though... well, not sighing... Oh Sweet Alluvium the Lord, confound and confusticate these dwarfs!"

"Sauce!" cried Poin, "You can go confusticate yourself!"

Snodgrass sneered, "By all accounts he already has."

Dwarfen groaned, “This is going to be a long ride.”

“It will be if Bango keeps denying everything using such idiomatic, inaccurate and confusing Eastwestron,” Grandelf called back. “What I suggest Bango is you just shut up - or at least just use plain Eastwestron in future.”

Bango let out the biggest sigh yet, he was that exasperated.

“He’s up to it again!” Growly growled in disgust. “Has he no shame?”

“I only hope he doesn't decide to do that when he's sneaking into Smug's cave!" Snodgrass sniggered. "Get his doodle burnt off if he's not careful!”

Thorny yelled, "Don't look at him, my good dwarfs, you'll only encourage him!"

“We have no intention of looking,” Dwarfen replied primly, and all the dwarfs looked steadfastly ahead, even if Biffo frowned.

Bango fumed in silence, rolled his eyes up to the heavens. Over the tops of the mountains rolled thick black clouds. Bango espying them, immediately foresaw a bleak wet night ahead. He groaned and shuddered inside, but he successfully resisted the urge to sigh.







As the day drew close to night, within about eight feet, the clouds that had been rolling in from the south congealed in a great black amorphous sludgy mass overhead. The Company did not like it. All of them were espying it anxiously as the line of ponies reached the top of a pass overhung with snow burdened rocks.

“Shouldn’t we find a safe and cozy cave to retire to?” Bango asked.

“That’s a good idea,” Poin avowed.

“Yes,” said Grandelf thoughtfully as he rode at the front of the line. “It looks like it’s going to be a right buster tonight.”

“Aren’t we forgetting something?” Dwarfen interceded. “What about what Almond said?”

“He said a lot of things,” Growly growled. “Hey! Is that a cave mouth up ahead?”

"We must be careful,” Dwarfen hastened to aver.

But before Dwarfen could pursue her peculiar vein of feminine logic, a stone giant poked his head over the pinnacle of a nearby mountain.

“Who’s up for a game of bumperball, what?”

Another head poked up over the mountain at the head of their valley, not far above the pass. “I do think I’m up for a spot of bumperball, Derrick. You can serve.”

“That’s fab, Tony!”

And so Derrick launched a boulder through the air between the mountains, and even though Alluvium had rubberized that boulder to prevent serious injury back in the First Age, it was served with such force it punctured the great pall of cloud, ripping a huge hole in that ethereal fabric. Rain bucketed down right onto the Company.

“That’s it,” Grandelf cried, “It’s into the cave.”

Now, like Dwarfen, you’ll probably be thinking that this was not a wise decision, and I agree with you, but only to a point, for they were in the throat of a deep valley pass, and rain was bucketing down, and lightning started pole-axing them with dazzling light, extreme heat and stinking brimstone, and Derrick and Tony were giggling like big girls; so getting out of the weather, and away from the stone giant’s elemental silliness, seemed imperative just then.

The cave had a very narrow entrance. A sign over the entrance crevice chipped into the living rock, said: “Welcome to the Subterranean Halls of a Tribe of Urbane and Helpful Gobblers.”

Bango, leading his pony in last, gave the sign a suspicious look. “Oh Sweet Alluvium – I can’t believe this!” he muttered. Mind you, he was already in a bad mood anyway because he was wet and cold and had not had a cup of tea since around six.

“Hey!” cried Ignory who had barely said anything so far in this story as you should know by now, “There are lots of chairs and beds and blankets in here. Look, an elfish orb-powered furnace, and a set of drums!”

“And two electric guitars!” cried Boppo.

“I wonder if the gobblers left them here?” Bwalin asked amiably. “I don’t suppose it matters. Let’s hang out our clothes on these hoists by the west wall, shall we?”

“Yes, we’ll put the ponies by the east wall,” Biffo said. “That’s where the troughs with hay are laid out.”

“What good luck,” Poin articulated. “Who could have imagined this situation, up in the heights of the Mushy Mountains, miles from known civilization, on a stormy night?”

“I suspect a trap,” Thorny said, his eyes darting right and left suspiciously. “You don’t suppose this is the gobblers Front Door or something? I mean, the sign did say...”

“Don’t be ridiculous,” Gandalf laughed. “There’s no back door into this salubrious cave." I dare say there once was a tribe of gobblers here, but they left or died out in ages past, probably in the Second Age.”

“What about the mod cons, and fresh straw, and – hey, look! fresh strawberries!” Thorny stroked his beard, even more suspicious. “And there is a door at the back by the way!”

“But it’s locked,” Biffo said triumphantly. “I just checked the handle. I think Gandalf’s right. Strip off everyone. Do you need a hand, dear Bango?”

“No, I don’t,” Bango said firmly.

“No need to get angry, Bango, I was trying to help you. You look like a drowned rat, after all.”

“Turn on the furnace,” Grandelf instructed them firmly. “And we’ll have no more cynicism from you, Thorny. You really need to relax.”

Thorny frowned severely but shut his mouth after that.

The Company hopped-to and changed into dry things, and then had a feast on the foods that had been packed into cupboards in the Second Age or thereabouts (apparently). After that, they found a host of other musical instruments neatly arrayed around the cave, and had a sing song. (“Knees up Mother Brown” was particularly enjoyed. Even Bango – though still a little out of sorts but glad to be out of the weather - joined in). After that they climbed into the comfy beds set out in the cave and fell fast asleep.

In the middle of the night, well after the elfish orb-lights had been turned off, Grandelf went outside to have a piss. When he was out there a most unexpected occurrence occurred. The door at the back of the cave opened – the noisy rattle of keys having roused nobody – and through it marched a troop of gobblers.

“At ‘em lads,” cried their leader. “How dare they interlope in King Ballbag’s sunroom?”

Bango woke up with a start. There was confusion. Hands grabbed him and the next thing he knew he was bound in chains and was being frog marched with thirteen dwarfs through the door into a dark tunnel.

Suddenly, there was a burst of dazzling colorful light, and Grandelf yelled, “Shit that hurt!” and several gobblers complained their eyes were bedazzered. The next thing the door was closed with a dull thud behind them.

The gobblers were in an absolute tizzle.

“What was that?” asked some in consternation.

“Fireworks we think,” said others.

“Oh!” said the first ones.

“Come on,” said the gobbler leader. “Let’s get these freeloaders down to see the King. He’ll know what to do with them.”

“What about the ponies?”

“What do you think, stupid? Bring ‘em too.”

“They look tasty.”

“Darn right!”

And then Bango felt the lick of whips on the heels of his feet. As usual, he was at the back of the line. The gobblers started a song which the Company was forced to skip to.


“Snap! Smash!
The Front Door!
Cripple and whipple,
Hoary dwarfs!
Ho ho ho!
You filthy hoes!
Down to Gobblerton
You goes!

Pluck! Plock!
Buffet! Knock!
Ho ho ho!
The dark is long,
Off down to Gobblerton,
Where lights are on!”



And the song continued, for at least twelve stanzas, with poor Bango stumbling in the dark. And he thought dwarf songs were bad. How wrong could you be?







Gobblerton was the Gobbler Town. It lay in the middle of the Mushy Mountains, almost at the centre of a mountain. It took about twenty minutes to get to Gobblerton. It was mostly downhill.

Gobblerton was a pretty swish place. King Ballbag's Great Great Grandfather, Scrotum the Sixth, had started it - with a pick axe. And his descendants had ever since been improving and expanding it. It didn't have curtains to begin with, but now it had lots of them. And they had accumulated glow-globes by the hundreds, so it was lit up twenty four seven like an Alluvium Tree. So when the dwarfs and the hobwit were driven under whip into its Regal Hall, they had no trouble seeing. The air conditioning was adequate.

In the middle of the Regal Hall was a huge throne on which sat a huge gobbler with a huge head.

"What's going on here, then?" said King Ballbag, for that is who it was. "We didn't invite these dwarfs. What are they doing in our Hall?"

"We found them in the Western Sun Room, your Majesty," the leader of the gobblers told him. "Uninvited."

"Well, we thought it was uninhabited," Thorny said.

"You didn't," King Ballbag cried, getting red in the face.

"Well, Grandelf thought so," Bango said, having plopped onto the rocky floor to rub his sore feet. “He even thought the strawberries were from the Second Age – though they did seem fresher than that on reflection…”

"Who is Grandelf?" the King asked, his eyes crossed in consternation. "Step forward, Grandelf. I'd like to slap your face."

"He's not here," Thorny said. "The door was slammed in his face."

"He must be the hairy chap with the fireworks," the leader of the gobblers said. "We figure he's a wizard."

"A wizard!" the King exclaimed, instantly going purple with rage. "There was a wizard in my Sun Room! I hate wizards - almost as much as I hate dwarfs! Take them away..."

"No you won't," cried a powerful voice, and Grandelf ran into the room with Bambi in his hand. For some reason Bambi throbbed a peculiar purple - which was strange, because magic swords usually glow blue, and don’t throb. Grandelf was very fierce looking. "Unhand those dwarfs, or I'll do something really theatrical!" He then produced a penny bunger from his robes. "Stand back or I'll light this!"

All the gobblers backed away in fear, for they saw that one of Grandelf's hands was red raw, blackened with gunpowder, presumably because a cracker had already gone off in his hand. They didn't want one thrown at them, and do you blame them?

Grandelf ran forward along the line and cut off the Company's chains.

"Quick now," he yelled, and ran out of that Hall, along Downing Street, across Piccadilly Circus, and into a tunnel outside the lights of the city, heading east as best Bango could judge, though it was an utter guess, and why he would be thinking it just then is rather peculiar really.

Grandelf lit his penny bunger and they made their way in its fizzing fuse until he threw it over his shoulder. There was a loud bang in the tunnel behind them. He then used the end of his magic staff to give a dim light to go by.

How long they ran, Bango couldn't say, but he was glad to be free of Gobblerton and the gobblers. He shuddered to think what might have happened to him there, for he could tell by their kilts that those particular gobblers were Scotsgobblers, and where there are kilts there are bagpipes.

After awhile, Bango began to flag. He wasn't a very fit hobwit after all. Boppo was a kindly dwarf, having worked in Mental Health, and he told Bango to climb up on his back. They continued on after that at a cracking pace. Grandelf told them he was making for the Back Door, about eighteen miles away, some of it uphill, so Bango was glad of the lift, though he was at a loss to know how Grandelf knew where the Back Door was.

But unknown to them, the gobblers had put on soft shoes and had followed them down the dark passage. Suddenly, at about the twelve mile post, a gobbler jumped onto Boppo's back. A mad fight started then. Gobblers called the dwarfs horrid names, and the dwarfs responded with insults about kilts and the humble haggis. During the melee, Grandelf stabbed the Great Gobbler in the heart with Bambi. (Old Bwalin did try to apologize on behalf of Grandelf for killing King Ballbag but the gobblers were in no mood for an apology, and Grandelf's intemperate attitude at the time did not help either). The dwarfs finally beat off the gobblers and they fled again. They did not realize that when the gobblers launched their assault in the dark, Bango had fallen off Boppo's back and hit his head on the hard rock floor of the tunnel. Poor Bango was left unconscious (and unnoticed) in the dark. And the darkness was very dark indeed!


Last edited by The Archet Bugle on Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:23 am; edited 4 times in total
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The Hobwit  - Page 3 Empty Re: The Hobwit

Post by The Archet Bugle on Tue May 15, 2012 2:51 am

Chapter Five
Poem-like Puzzlers in the Dark



Bango woke with a start. "Where am I?" For a moment he thought he was back home in his comfortable bed in his comfortable hobwit hole, but as you know, and he soon did as well, he wasn't. No he was in a dark gobbler tunnel.

Now Bango had lived in a hole in the ground all his life, but this place was pitch dark and he completely shit himself.

In a panic, he ran off into a wall, smashed into it, got up again, and then felt his way along for about three miles in the dark, until he came to a dark lake under the mountain. His foot went ‘splash’ in chill waters. The panic left him, only to be replaced by dismay. With a bump, he sat down.

“What’s this?” he asked. “Oh it’s bones! How horrid! And this thing here: a bangle? I wonder who dropped it here? I’ll keep it, I think. But if it’s brass and not gold I’ll be really pissed off.”

Just then he heard a voice in the darkness. I know you’re not going to believe this, but Bango had chanced upon the lake where Spiegel (from The Prologue) had come to live about thirty years ago. Go figure! And Spiegel had seen Bango and got into a boat he had got under the mountain somehow and paddled across the lake from the island he lived on, singing as he went.

“Ooh I’ve got a bangle
but it doesn’t jangle
When I creep up in the dark,

And I’ve got claws like knives,
That plunge deep inside,
Penetrating the heart;

Yummy, yummy, yum-yum,
I love young ones,
But middle aged prey,
Is also okay
Under this big mountain,
Hey-ho,
and hey-hey
in Spring –
or at least I think so,
but how would I know-ho
under this big mountain?”


“What the...?” Bango said in surprise as the ethereal voice carried to him. “He must be the bangle-owner; but I don’t much like the import of that song... ... ... Mind,” he added, less alarmed, “that singing sounds elfish to me. Could it be a cave-dwelling elf?”

But it wasn’t a cave dwelling elf at all, it was Spiegel, Bango’s Son, not that either of them knew that.

“Oh hi,” said Spiegel, a curious gangling creature that Bango could now make out in the peculiar green light made by its big luminous mournful eyes as Spiegel paddled up to the shore. “I’m Spiegel the half-a-hobwit-half-an-elf, and I’m very pleased to make your acquaintance.” And then, in excitement: “Gee willikens! Are you a hobwit, perchance?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Yum-yum, I’ve never eaten a hobwit before; I’m not against cannibalism either, though I guess it would be only half-cannibalism in this case.”

Bango was now very much alarmed again, and I don’t blame him. I mean, how would you like to be eaten? Not at all, I’d say. At least, not in the way Spiegel meant.

“Oh please don’t eat me,” Bango pleaded. “Why not just show me the way out?”

“Well, I have just eaten a gobbler not half an hour ago,” Spiegel confessed, “So I’m not all that hungry. What say we have a game of Poem-like Puzzler? If I win, I’ll eat you, if you win, I’ll show you the way out? Though if I lose, I’ll likely betray your confidence – and if you cheat, I tell you right now, I’ll get really angry and probably renege on any agreement. How does that sound?”

“I guess it sounds alright,” Bango answered with some uncertainty.

“Okay. First things first, my name is Spiegel. It’s not Chokeynoise, no matter what anyone says, okay!”

“Are you a psychopath?”

“Indeed, I am. But tell me, what’s your name?”

“I’m Bango Bigguns from Hobwiton.”

“Oh good, that knowledge might come in handy in the future if you escape and I have to find you for any reason – not that I can think of one just now. Let’s begin our game of Poem-like Puzzler. I’ll start.


‘This Eye sees nothing but is often seen,
Out of car windows leaving the scene,
In the middle of a strange moon face pressed against glass,
Sometimes dark sausages squeeze out, but you mustn’t ask!’



Though the anachronistic reference to a ‘car’ threw him for the moment, Bango had no trouble getting this one.

“Brown eye,” he said gleefully. “I show mine at the ‘Rosie’ window every Thursday when the Nuns go past – but only when I’m sozzled, mind! Let's be honest, doesn't everyone loves a brown-eye in the moonlight?”

“Okay then,” Spiegel clapped his claws, already warming to the game. “It’s your turn, my good fellow.”


“‘Big Head, Round Head,
Fat Head, Dead Head,
If this has anything to do
With Heads,
Then you’re a Dunderhead!’”



‘That’ll trick the foul green-eyed creature,’ Bango thought mischievously.

Now Spiegel had spent about thirty years in the dark on his island and he’d played poem-puzzler games whenever he wasn’t hunting and eating gobblers, which gave one plenty of time to think of everything known to man or hobwit or half-hobwit, and so he had no trouble working this one out.

“Well, Big Head, means ‘vanity’; and Round Head, means ‘perfectly formed personality showing much wisdom’, and Fat Head, means ‘stupid person full of lard’, and Dead Head means ‘pluck flowers that have died off on your rose bush to encourage new growth’; but then it’s ‘If this has anything to do with Heads, then you’re a Dunderhead’ A bit obvious, isn’t it? And no one wants to be a ‘Dunderhead’ now, do they?”

“Okay, smart-arse, what’s the answer?” Bango grumbled, realizing suddenly his Poem-like Puzzler was too easy, a chestnut, but he was stuck with it.

“It’s ‘feet’!” Spiegel laughed aloud in the cavernous dark. “Feet, it is! What else could it be? Though, to be frank, I’ve only got the two.”

“Alright, know-it-all; it’s your turn again.”

Spiegel laughed again, “It’s like you want to get eaten. Here’s my next one:


‘This adder’s door is teeth clasped together,
You don’t see him out often in any weather,
But on a big day, in tavern, inn or pub,
He visits the privy for a rub-a-dub-dub;
Old One Eyed adder, but he’ll never hiss,
He slithers out often when out on the piss.’



Now you will be lying in your bed hearing this and thinking, ‘That’s just so easy. Any boy who has played at Under-blanket-tiddly-winks would know it!’ But remember, Bango was in a dark tunnel, beside a dark underground lake, sitting by a dark creature by the name of Spiegel who was even now watching him closely out of his two big mournful green getting-vaguely-hungry eyes.

Bango could not think, no matter how hard he strained, so he felt around in the his pocket looking for Pigsticker, but instead…. “My goodness,” he realized with dismay. “There’s a hole in the lining!” And then immediately after, on feeling around, the answer to Spiegel’s Poem-like Puzzler came to him.

“Trouser snake!” he exclaimed in relief and joy, “Trouser snake!”

“Oh goodness gracious,” Spiegel said sadly. “Okay, you’re turn, my friend.”

But Bango was so flustered at his close escape he could not think of anything, so he felt in his other pocket for Pigsticker. Sure enough, he felt its reassuring handle. But he also found the bangle he’d found and put there just before Spiegel arrived.

“Is this the bangle you were singing about that I’ve got my hand on?”

Spiegel’s eyes widened in instant outrage, “That’s hardly a fair Poem-like Puzzler. It’s not even a Poem at all, my friend.”

With nothing better in mind, Bango said crossly. “Well, what if I give you two guesses?”

“That seems fair enough by anybody’s standards,” Spiegel said reasonably. “Okay then... So what is the question again? Oh yes, ‘Is this the bangle you were singing about that I’ve got my hand on?’ I would have to say the answer must be ‘No’ because my bangle has been chafing my wrist lately, so I’ve left it on my island. So, ‘No’ it is!”

“Wrong!” Bango laughed triumphantly, “Last guess.”

“Oh my goodness,” Spiegel groaned. “Let me think. Okay... Mm... Alright then, and odd that it should be so, but ‘Yes’ you do have your hand on my bangle.”

“Wrong!” Bango cried again.

Spiegel eyed him suspiciously. “You either do or you don’t, surely?”

“I just took my hand off it.”

Spiegel frowned in the dark. “That doesn’t seem fair, really.”

“I did give you two guesses.”

Spiegel frowned even more deeply. “It’s almost like cheating...”

And then a dark thought occurred to Spiegel.

‘I know what I’ll do. I’ll paddle over to my island and get my Bangle-of-Invisibility. Then I’ll paddle back here and jump on Bango in the dark and have my way with him.’

Looking at Bango keenly, Spiegel said, “I’m off to get my Bangle-of-Invisibility, sir. I need to use it to get past the gobblers when I’m showing you the way out. Wait here.”

And with that Spiegel jumped into his little boat and was gone.

“Is he that stupid?” Bango asked the dark. “I guess he is. Mm... So it’s a Bangle-of-Invisibility, is it?” The hobwit took out the gold bangle and put it on. “I’ll have to take his word for it that it’s made me invisible, my God it’s dark now without Spiegel’s big green luminous eyes here. Ha! With this bangle on, I can get myself out of these caves with or without Spiegel, even if it takes ages.”

Just then Spiegel cried out in pure hostility: “That bastard’s got my bangle!”

And Bango, seeing the writing on the wall, even in the dark, shot off up the tunnel the way he had come.


Things were not as good as they might have been but they were much better they could have been, and according to the totality of things, Bango was a fair to middling chance of escaping. Indeed, he was in with a better than average chance of escaping, but not that much better than average chance, mind.

Up the long dark tunnel Bango ran. Behind him he could hear Spiegel's cries. The creature sounded pretty annoyed, as might be expected, and frighteningly so, and his cries were drawing closer, which is not really surprising because Spiegel could see in the dark and also had slightly faster legs than Bango. Gradually, Spiegel was catching up, but not really quickly, it was at a really tension building rate.

Bango was soon sweating like a pig, his heart was pumping at about twice the rate as usual, his poor fuzzy feet were getting sore, he was puffing like a chimney (but without smoke) and his thighs were starting to quiver. But no matter how hard he ran (and it was, after all, mostly uphill), Spiegel gained ground, more tensionly with every step.

"Why ever did I come on this ridiculously dangerous adventure?" Bango asked himself. "Oh that's right, the dwarfs persuaded me to."

And then he began to hear the slap-slap-slap of Spiegel's bare floppy feet on the tunnel floor behind him.

"Eegad!" Bango shrieked and put in a dash, but in doing so, he lost his footing and fell clean on his face.

The sound of slap-slap-slap was soon upon him. But then it was no longer behind him, it was in front of him.

"Well, $%^# me dead!" Bango sighed. "This is really a Bangle-of-Invisibility!"

As he lay in the dark, he listened to the dwindling slap-slap-slaps. Then, reasonably distantly, but not so distantly that Bango's sharp hearing could not hear it, Bango heard Spiegel weeping.

"He's stopped somewhere up ahead. I'll go and see what he's weeping about. Who knows, he may reveal the way out of this mountain, but not know I'm listening because of this Bangle-of-Invisibility I'm wearing."

So emboldened, our hobwit padded softly up toward the weeping.

"Oh I hate that Bango Bigguns from Hobwiton," he soon heard Spigel weeping. "He's no better than a giant mouse, and I hate mieces to pieces! Doesn't he know it's an evil bangle with awesome power in the wrong hands – though more than useful for throttling gobblers in the right hands? No, I suppose he wouldn't... not yet.... I hates him. I hates him more than I hates anyone else, even my slutty mother who abandoned me to fend for myself from a young age, drinking wild boar's milk, catching mice - then rats when I got bigger - and avoiding pedophiles in Gondor! Oh how I hates her. But I now hates her less than I hates Bango Bigguns from Hobwiton, and that's something. Probably I hates him exactly as much as I hates my unknown father, a hobwit from Hobwiton by all accounts, though my slutty Mother was pretty vague about it all. Oh woe is me."

"I should stab him dead with Pigsticker," Bango thought. "But I'll wait and see what he says next. It might contain useful information."

"I bet he's on his way to the Back Door," Spiegel said suddenly. 'He asked me to show him the way out, but he knew all the time. I bet he came to steal my Bangle-of-Invisibility. It's got me buggered how he knew I had it in the first place - but he's cunning, oh yes, he's cunning, or at least he must be. Not only that he has a tendency to cheat at Poem-like Puzzler, much as I hate to accuse anyone of that. Ooo I hates him! Yes, I hates him, even if I know it's not nice to think such thoughts!"

And with that, Spiegel jumped up and ran off in the direction of the Back Door. Bango followed the green glow of his big eyes feeling a great measure of hopefulness now. Maybe he would escape after all. Of course, you and I know he will, but he didn't know it. It was quite a tense situation for him, I'll have you know.

Bango quietly followed Spiegel on his fuzzy feet through the myriad tunnels under the mountains. The Hobwit could see the green glow of the half-elf half-hobwit's eyes and he could hear his curses and groans. Bango followed Spiegel for ages and ages, not Elfish ages, much shorter ages, though it did seem like forever to Bango.

At last, Bango heard the sound of gobbler voices somewhere ahead. The gobblers were singing:

"Oh we're sitting on the doorstep
in the middle of the day,
With the front door ajar,
No one standing in the way,

And if anyone should happen by
- who knows? Maybe invisible? -
We won't even see him,
Which will surely make us miserable,

'cause we're searching for some dwarfs,
who managed to flee - but it's odd,
that the littlest one was missing,
the fuzzy footed sod.

Yes, we're guarding the Front Door,
And we’ll see him bounding sprightly,
- Unless, he's invisible,
Which make it seem unlikely."  


Bango was amazed. "What a peculiar song in so many ways," he thought. "But the good point is that my Good Luck seems to be holding."

Bango by now was peering into a large lantern-lit cavern, and opposite, the sight of a partially open door. Spiegel was stopped in front of him, crouched and miserable just outside the blaze of light. On the other side of Spiegel were a host of gobblers, but not one of them was blocking the way between him and the door. The gobblers were drinking ale and smoking cigars.

"I must run and leap over Spiegel," Bango thought. "I only hope I don't crack my head on the tunnel roof when I so leap. Oh well, I will either hit my head and know it, or not hit my head and never know it, though if it's the second possibility, it could not feasibly get into my story, but who knows, stranger things have happened.  Frankly, one never knows with these things, until later, however implausible."

And so, gathering whatever confidence he could muster, Bango sped forward and leapt over Spiegel's head. Spiegel heard him come and threw up his arms wildly to grab at him, but the invisible hobwit sailed by. Pad pad pad he ran down the aisle formed between the milling gobblers. He reached the open door just as the gobblers, having heard his pad pad pad realized their song had come true and the little fuzzy footed invisible hobwit must be escaping. A gobbler jumped to the door and began heaving it closed. Poor Bango got stuck halfway through and had to squeeze ever so hard. In doing so, all his buttons popped off and the poor fellow had to run out into bright sunlight with nothing on. Yes, all is clothes had fallen off. Luckily, he was invisible.

Off down a steep rocky decline he ran.

"Free," he gasped as he ran. "Free at last!"

And the rush of adrenaline was so intense that part of his invisible body changed configuration. But he was invisible, as I say, so no wildlife was offended. Of course, that would have been unlikely anyway because, like modern wildlife, nudity never offended the animals of that region. Narnian animals it's true may have been offended, but none were living there so close to the Mushy Mountains, what with the gobblers being there and all, and gobblers being so fond of talking animals, especially squirrels, but not in a good way.


Last edited by The Archet Bugle on Thu Aug 08, 2013 1:47 am; edited 7 times in total
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Post by The Archet Bugle on Tue May 15, 2012 3:18 am

Chapter Six
Out of Tunnels and into Trees



It was getting late in the day and Bango wondered how long he had been unconscious in the gobbler tunnels, but he couldn't work it out. He also wondered what it would be like to be sitting at home inside his comfy hole smoking his pipe and drinking a tankard or two of Old Vineyard. He also wondered if his nephew Froggo had been conceived yet, but that was not the kind of thing worth thinking about just now, it being perfectly hypothetical that his cousin Druggo would ever even have sex with a female hobwit (and not a goat or ewe) and have an heir, him liking pipe weed so much, as well as other hallucinatory herbs and spices. Bango thought instead about his comrades, the dwarfs.

"I wonder where those bearded arse-holes are?" he thought aloud as he padded along what might be considered not much more than a goat track, and not a whole lot less than a bunny run, between rocks and boulders, still high up in the ridges at the foot of the Mushy Mountains.

Not long after he had wondered where ‘those bearded arse-holes are’, Bango caught the sound of voices further down the ridges. He forced himself to pad a bit faster, even though his legs groaned and his knees wailed - a bit like magic purses do.

Presently the hobwit came out into a sparse copse of pine trees. A slightly more goat-like path, but still not quite as wide as the usual gauge goat path, led him a circuitous way down a gentle decline among rocks and tree trunks. He soon came around a bend in the almost goat-width path and suddenly could hear the voices better.

It was dwarf voices! But Bango could not see them at first. Cautiously, he moved further along the goat-width path - which had widened suddenly - and off to his left, past a bramble bush or two, he spied Bwalin's piercing blue eyes piercing him from about forty three feet away. Bwalin's gaze gave him a bit of a shock for it looked like the dwarf was staring right through him - and he was! Yes, Bango was still invisible with his magic bangle on.

"Good ol' Bwalin," Bango said, pleased to see the old dwarf, who everyone was always pleased to see. "He's standing look out. My, those other dwarfs are talking loud. Don't they fear gobblers will be down here when dark falls? The idiots - I'll sneak up and give them fright of their lives!"

And so, as quiet as a mouse or other small rodent, the hobwit left the goat path and snuck past Bwalin in the brambles.

In a hollow, ringed by stones, brambles, old white goods (created by gobblers who love things that whirr and hum and break down just after the Warranty runs out), sat twelve dwarfs and Grandelf. They appeared to be in the middle of a domestic type argument.

"Well, if Boppo had not dropped Mr. Bigguns and forgot to pick him up again after the scuffle, we would not have to contemplate going back and finding him," Grandelf said angrily.

"Are you planning to go back?" gasped Thorny.

"I've course I'm #@*^not, I'm saying we wouldn't even be contemplating it."

"You're the only who *@#^)^% suggested the possibility," said Fowly.

"Not seriously though," Grandelf grumbled.

"Well," put in Boppo in a hostile tone, "If you hadn't cut my head off in the confusion, I might have remembered to pick up that useless hobwit."

"Fair's fair," Grandelf complained. "I did find it for you and stick it back on with a spell I learned at Hogwarts - and under extreme pressure too, what with those gobblers going for us like the clackers!"

"Look," Thorny intervened. "The fact is, we are now down to thirteen, and so must live with the Bad Luck that implies."

"Well, we could at least contemplate rescuing poor Bango," grumbled Grandelf.

"You do it then."

"Confusticate and be-bother you dwarfs, do you think I'm mad? I’m only showing a bit of humanity.”

“You’re a wizard! What’s this ‘humanity’ crap?”

Just then, Bango was in their midst and took off his magic bangle, and ‘poof!’ he was ‘visible’ again. (He had the presence of mind to quickly hide the bangle in the only place he could in his naked circumstances, not that it caused him any great physical comfort). Imagine the dwarfs’ surprise!

"Sweet Alluvium's knickerbockers!" exclaimed Groin. "It's Bango Bigguns appearing like a bolt out of the blue - and completely starker’s what's more!"

"Where the #^*@ did you come from?" cried Fowly with a scowl that could have curdled milk. "#^*@ you gave me a fright!"

"Yes, Mr. Bigguns," Grandelf commented with a calculating smile. "It seems I won't have to rescue you, which is good, if quite disappointing in a way. But you really mustn't go appearing out of nowhere."

"Yeah," grumped Snodgrass, who had accidentally bitten his finger instead of the crispy wafer he was munching when Bango appeared, "How did you do it?"

Bumbur interjected, "Did you know you were naked, Bango? Have you been visiting the elfs?"

"Yeah, and what's that sticking out behind you?" put in Biffo who noticed such things.

"it's a golden bangle - or at least half of one!" Ignory cried.

"Is it a Magic Bangle, I wonder?" Grandelf wondered.

"No, it's not. It's just a... a... a ... a family heirloom," Bango stuttered, for he thought it a good idea to keep the properties of Spiegel's bangle a secret (and he was quietly crestfallen to find out it was sticking out so visibly).

All the dwarfs eyes were staring at the bangle now in consternation.

"Is that where you always keep it?" Thorny Oakenbeard asked, half in surprise and half in admiration. "It must hurt a bit when you're sitting."

"I don't always keep it there!" Bango burst out in chagrin. "I only put it there.... err… so i wouldn't drop it when I escaped from Spiegel."

"Who the $#^*'s Spiegel?" Fowly asked.

"It seems our Mr. Bigguns has a tale to tell," Grandelf said with a proud smile.

"Well, that's %$^&**% obvious!" Fowly muttered.

"Speak!" Thorny said.

And so Bango sat down (carefully) and told them all about what happened in the tunnels, leaving out any mention of the bangle's invisibility powers.

"And so, after all what happened," Bango concluded, "I found my way down here."

"How did Spiegel miss you in the tunnel?" asked Ignory when the hobwit finished.

"And how did you get past the gobblers?" Thorny asked suspiciously.

"And how did you get past me?" Bwalin asked, clearly impressed. "I've got twenty-twenty vision."

"He does too," Biffo said. "And your shapely white body contrasts so with the green brambles and grey stones all around us. Your skin is very white, Bango...." and that brawny dwarf's voice faded away reflectively.

"Didn't I tell you people he was illusive?" Grandelf almost shouted in vexation. "Didn't I mention how he often snuck into Mayor Whitefeet's hole to visit his missus - and e'en when the Mayor was home? I'm sure I did - back in Chapter One. It's why I hired him for this venture. He's the worst – or best - sneak I've ever met."

"Err... yes, I just snuck down here very sneakily," Bango said with some discomfort. He did not like very much people thinking he was a sneak, but on the other hand, he wanted to keep the Magic Bangle's properties a secret.

Now, you may wonder why Bango, who was on a least once in awhile an honest hobwit, would want to disguise the truth about the bangle. The fact is, a little voice inside him said: "Why not keep it secret? I can use it to find out all sorts of things. And I can sneak even better around the Shire and so avoid unrespectable glances. And who knows if these bastards won't want to take it off me anyhow once they know its uses beyond the decorative?"

Yes, this all seemed a rational and reasonable internal discourse, don't you agree?

But there was something else too!

The bangle was not quite what you might think it might be. It had a History, if you know what I mean, which I will tell you about if I ever finish this story and write the Second Reddish Book. Indeed it was an awesome powerful bangle. A bangle full of dark power in fact. Indeed, perhaps, one of the most powerful bangles - if not the most powerful bangle - of all time. Bango did not know this, but it had an "evil" allure, but one that Bango was not aware of.

It was like that unexploded Atom Bomb you might have found in your yard back in your University days. You think, "This might make an artistic-looking dining room table," not knowing, of course, that it's an Atom Bomb. All you know is you do so much like the smooth curvaceous shape of the object you found (unexpectedly) in your petunia bed. So you get it moved into your share-house by a group of your university friends. You paint it in lots of psychedelic colors, and drill a few holes in the top so that you can screw a flat board on it to hold your bottles of grog and your bongs and peanuts and crinkle cut chips. You have no idea how dangerous the thing is but you are definitely pleased you have such an object de art, which is not only beautiful but useful for everyday purposes. Can you imagine all your friends admiring your table? Mind you, you would not think it had the power to make you invisible, nor would it have an attractive evil sentience, because Atom Bombs don't have dire manipulative souls - not as far as I know. Anyhow, I'm sure we can only take the parallels so far.

"Oh Mr. Bigguns, that's how you did it," Bwalin exclaimed, getting back to the story, and he clapped his hands in dwarfish delight. "You just snuck quietly past me. How clever of you..."

"He may come in useful after all," Thorny said with his expression dour as usual, but Bango thought to see a glimmer of admiration in his eyes.

Feeling very pleased with himself Bango chirped: "You must tell me what happened to you guys in the tunnels."

"Yes, it was an exciting time, I can tell you," Grandelf said - and he did.

After Grandelf finished his tale of what had happened to them in the tunnels, he frowned and added, "I think we better get as far away as possible. Come nightfall those gobblers will be down here with kilts a'swirling, and they won't be planning to play tiddlywinks with us if they catch us."

And so with that sober knowledge in his head, Bango borrowed a cloak from Bwalin to cover up his nakedness and soon followed Grandelf and the dwarfs out of the clearing and down through the pine trees.

"I do hope after all that’s happened we’ll get away without further dramas," Bango said to himself. Which was rather naïve of him, don’t you think?
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Post by Mrs Figg on Tue May 15, 2012 1:08 pm

This is brilliant, I love the 'mooning riddle', that made me giggle that did. Razz I reckon you could publish this, why dont you post a bit of it in Bree? specially this last bit with the 'middle aged prey' poem, that was genius.

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